The 2015 BMW PGA Championship, The European Tour’s flagship event, re-wrote the record books this year, as four new records were set, including the tournament’s largest accumulative attendance.
An enthusiastic crowd of 24,912 was at Wentworth Club, Surrey, on Sunday to see Byeong-Hun An crowned champion following an exceptional four days of golf. The South Korean set a tournament record with a score of -21 under par, before lifting the coveted BMW PGA Championship trophy on the iconic 18th hole of Wentworth’s West Course.
A record breaking total of 113,640 spectators attended this year’s event and they were treated to some sensational golf, including five holes-in-one – another BMW PGA Championship record – two of which saw Englishmen Chris Wood and Andrew Johnston win a BMW i8 and BMW M4 Coupe respectively.
The six-day event delivered a superb package of world-class golf, fun and celebrity spotting. After Practice Days on Monday and Tuesday, a stellar line-up of celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment put their golf skills to the ultimate test when they teed off alongside the game’s leading names at the BMW PGA Celebrity Pro-Am, now firmly established as the official Championship curtain raiser.
A record 19,123 spectators attended this year’s BMW PGA Pro-Am, an increase of almost 7,500 from 2014.
One Direction’s Niall Horan made his Celebrity Pro-Am debut, teaming up with friend, 2014 BMW PGA Champion and World Number One, Rory McIlroy. Their four-ball was completed with Manchester United and England footballers Phil Neville and Paul Scholes. After a few wayward shots in the wrong direction, Horan completed the 18 holes in admirable style, later tweeting:
“What an incredible experience yesterday was...apart from the way I played! Huge thanks to @McIlroyRory , @fizzer18 and Scholesy ! Great day.”
Thursday saw another record attendance, with 20,956 spectators heading to the BMW PGA Championship for the opening day of the tournament. And they were treated to two holes-in-one, the second of which was shot by Andrew Johnston, earning the 26-year-old a sporty BMW M4 Coupe – the hole-in-one prize on hole 10.
Elsewhere on the course, Francesco Molinari, whose recent return to form was evident for all to see, carded a seven under Par 65 to take the overall lead at the end of Day One.
Day 1 in Numbers
Round Two was a day of dramatic developments as Rory McIlroy expressed his deep disappointment at missing the cut, a double bogey six at the 11th contributing to a six-over round of 78. The 26-year-old, who has won two of his last three events in America, later admitted to suffering from mental fatigue.
With the exception of McIlroy, the majority of ‘big names’ made the cut after Thursday, including fan favourites Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Miguel Ángel- Jiménez. However, it was Byeong-Hun An who found impressive form on his BMW PGA Championship debut, challenging Molinari at the top of the leaderboard. Ben, as he is known, secured his European Tour card one year ago, after finishing third in the 2014 rankings.
Day 2 in Numbers
The Wentworth crowd enjoyed a sensational day of golf on Saturday, as England’s Tommy Fleetwood hit the shot of the tournament, an albatross on the Par five fourth - only the third albatross in the history of the BMW PGA Championship. This was shortly followed by a hole-in-one by Jiménez on the second – the 10th of his career and a new European Tour record for the most holes-in-one by a single player. But it was Francesco Molinari and Byeong-Hun An who continued to lead the charge, the two tied at the top on 14 under par.
Day 3 in Numbers
The final round on Sunday produced two further holes-in-one; the first by Trevor Fisher Jnr on hole 2, and then, towards the end of the day’s play, a fifth Ace of the tournament, this time by Chris Wood at the 14th, where the hole-in-one prize was BMW’s pioneering i8. Wood later received the keys for his new BMW i8 in the Championship Village, from Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board BMW Group, Sales and Marketing.
Day 4 in Numbers
The breakdown of crowd figures over all five days was as follows: 24,912 on Sunday (Round 4); 24,666 on Saturday (Round 3); 23,983 on Friday (Round 2); a record attendance of 20,956 on Thursday (Round 1); and a record BMW PGA Celebrity Pro-Am attendance of 19,123 on Wednesday.
BMW PGA Championship Director Jamie Birkmyre commented: “This year’s BMW PGA Championship has been the best I can remember, with record crowds treated to five fantastic days of world-class golf and entertainment. The golf has been arguably some of the best played on The European Tour this year. Byeong-Hun An is a worthy Champion, shooting the lowest ever score in this tournament’s history.
“It’s been a thrilling tournament and I would like to thank all the players, volunteers, staff, partners, sponsors and spectators for making the BMW PGA Championship 2015 such an outstanding success.”
Graeme Grieve, Chief Executive Officer of BMW Group UK and Ireland, said: “On behalf of BMW, I would like to congratulate Byeong-Hun An on winning the BMW PGA Championship 2015. It has been a fantastic tournament and the players have treated us to some exceptional golf, befitting of this prestigious flagship event of The European Tour; five holes-in-one, an albatross, two players driving home in BMWs and a golfing masterclass from this year’s Champion – all in front of record crowds. I would like to congratulate The European Tour and Wentworth Club for organising such a magnificent tournament.”
Away from the course, the BMW PGA Championship Village was a hive of activity with a host of entertainment for spectators of all ages. The BMW Fairway was a popular new addition this year, along with the Mega Putt Challenge which helped raise funds for the Championship’s official charity, Teenage Cancer Trust.
Throughout the week celebrities and professionals joined BBC presenter Andrew Cotter on the BMW Show Stage for ‘Cotter’s Questions’, including golfers Justin Rose, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Graeme McDowell, plus celebrities Alan Shearer and Eve Muirhead. The sporting theme continued on Sunday with a Rugby World Cup special on the BMW Show Stage, featuring rugby internationals Ben Foden, Michael Lynagh and George North.
Meanwhile, car enthusiasts were treated to a showing of the new BMW 3 Series, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Additionally, the pioneering BMW i8 drew much admiration from the crowds along with BMW’s first all-electric offering, the BMW i3.
Speaking of the official charity of this year’s BMW PGA Championship, Jamie Birkmyre added: “Teenage Cancer Trust is an amazing charity which provides life changing care and support together with world class cancer services for young people in the UK. Thanks to the generosity of the professional players, The Teenage Cancer Trust benefitted to the tune of £24,500 when the 49 players donated their £500 Pro-Am fee to the charity. Their amateur partners also chipped in with £2,600 from the traditional `hit the green’ competition. Other charitable initiatives meant the Pro-Am day alone raised £35,681 for the charity.
“Further funds were raised throughout the tournament, through the Mega Putt Challenge and programme sales. The final fundraising figure for Teenage Cancer Trust will be confirmed in the next few days.”