The strongest field assembled in Asia this year will be out to get its hands on a prestigious new title when the BMW Masters makes its debut from October 25-28.
Four of the top five players in the Official World Golf Ranking will be in action at Lake Malaren Golf Club, along with all but one of the victorious European Ryder Cup team, including Captain José María Olazábal. Among this world-class field are four players who are not only vying for the winner’s cheque of US$1.16 million (from a total prize purse of US$7 million), but also the “double” – two BMW tournament wins in one season.
All the 2012 BMW title-holders will tee off in Shanghai: Rory McIlroy (BMW Championship, US PGA Tour), Luke Donald (BMW PGA Championship, The European Tour), Danny Willett (BMW International Open, The European Tour) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño (BMW Italian Open, The European Tour). They are all looking to emulate Spain’s Miguel Ángel Jiménez, the only player to date to have won two BMW tournaments in one season. In 2004 Jiménez triumphed at both the BMW International Open and the BMW Asian Open, the forerunner to the BMW Masters. Jiménez himself will also line up in Shanghai.
World Number One McIlroy once again demonstrated in emphatic fashion his ability to win a tournament packed with world-class players at the recent BMW Championship, the penultimate tournament of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup Play-off series. The Northern Irishman underlined his exceptional form in Carmel, Indiana, with his third victory in a matter of weeks.
Donald, currently Number Three in the world, also celebrated a magnificent victory earlier this year at the BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth. The Englishman produced a dominant display at The European Tour’s flagship event to defend the title he also won in 2011.
One month later, Donald’s younger compatriot Danny Willett celebrated his maiden victory at the BMW International Open, which was held in Cologne for the first time this year. Willett was required to show a combination of patience and stamina to claim his first European Tour win – it took the 24 year old four play-off holes to see off the challenge of Australia’s Marcus Fraser.
Fernandez-Castaño is the only member of the quartet to have already won a BMW tournament in Shanghai when he secured the BMW Asian Open in 2006. Six years later he showed nerves of steel to pick up his second BMW title at September’s BMW Italian Open.
However, none of the above four professionals will be expecting to simply turn up and complete the “double” on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Championship Course at Lake Malaren.
The 78 players represent the strongest field on display at any tournament in Asia this year. McIlroy and Donald will be joined by World Number Four Lee Westwood and Number Five Justin Rose, both of whose extraordinary class was on display for all to see at the recent Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.
As well as the other members of the heroic European Ryder Cup team, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Nicolas Colsaerts, Peter Hanson, Francesco Molinari and Paul Lawrie, two South Africans Major Champions also have their sights set on the BMW Masters title: Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, who claimed the Masters Tournament in 2011.
The same goes for Ireland’s four-time Ryder Cup winner Pádraig Harrington, who won three Majors in 2007 and 2008.
You have to go a little further back in time to find John Daly’s biggest triumphs: the American won his Majors in 1991 (US PGA Championship) and 1995 (Open Championship). The spectator magnet and crowd favourite won the BMW International Open in 2001. The flamboyant character is certain to thrill fans in Asia at the BMW Masters with his colourful trousers and mighty swing.
Alongside BMW Brand Ambassador Kaymer, the second German in the field is Marcel Siem. The 32 year old is enjoying the best season of his career, the highlight of which was his victory at the prestigious and iconic Open de France in July.
However, Siem has a score to settle in Shanghai: he was in contention right down to the final hole of this year’s BMW International Open. Siem is keen to make amends for narrowly missing out on his first BMW title – ideally at the BMW Masters.