Darren Clarke (Getty Images)
Last time BMW sponsored a European Tour event in Asia Darren Clarke emerged victorious, and five years on the Northern Irishman is hoping to contend again at the BMW Masters in Shanghai.
The former Open Champion notched the 11th of his 14 European Tour titles at the 2008 BMW Asian Open, although Clarke expects Lake Malaren Golf Club to provide a tougher test than the nearby Tomson Shanghai Pudong where he emerged victorious.
“It was my first win on The European Tour for five years - the Tomson club was a really nice event,” said the 44 year old. “The golf course was great and obviously it suited me.
“It was great to see a sponsor as good as BMW back in Asia again - this course is much longer and much more difficult.”
It is not only the challenging layout Clarke has to contend with - The Ryder Cup vice-captain is up against 11 of Europe’s winning team from Medinah, and four of the top five players from the Official World Golf Ranking.
“It's a really strong field,” he added. “We have four of the top five in the world - that's a fantastic achievement for a European Tour event, and not just those four, but all the rest of the players that are here. It's a fantastic event with lots of World Ranking points.
“It's my first time playing the golf course and it's playing really nicely at the moment. The greens are tough because of the severity in the slopes, but all in all, I'm sure it's going to be a very exciting week.“
Clarke’s compatriot Graeme McDowell comes into the event chasing a first win in two years after a consistent albeit frustrating season.
The former US Open Champion has finished no worse than 12th in the four Majors, and was second at Webb Simpson at the Olympic Club.
However, victory has eluded him and the 33 year old is keen to put that right this week.
“I'm playing five of the next six weeks; I'm ninth in The Race to Dubai right now and I could do with a couple big weeks to get myself in decent position going into the World Championship,” he said. “I’m really keen to come on this stretch of golf to really put a bit of a shine on what's been a good, frustrating, should have been, could have been, whatever kind of year.
“I'm keen to try and finish strong and give myself a couple chances to win down the stretch here and really put a bit of a shine on the year.
“There's no doubt that this year has had a bittersweet taste to it. It's been a fairly consistent year, and definitely my strongest year in the Major Championships, but yet, there is that little sense of disappointment inside me that I didn't do better in the last rounds.
“I've got to take the positives away and kind of renew my belief that I can win more Major Championships - if I keep preparing the way I'm doing and improving the way I am.
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully the good stuff will come in the future.”