A slice of the action from Shanghai

10/25/2012 2:47:31 AM
 Rory McIlroy playing table tennis against Timo Boll  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy playing table tennis against Timo Boll (Getty Images)

Our press officer at Lake Malaren brings you all of the action from behind the scenes at the BMW Masters in China.

Freinds Reunited

It’s might seem like only yesterday, but just over three weeks have passed since Europe retained The Ryder Cup in one of the most dramatic Sundays witnessed in the contest’s history. For some of the victorious members of the team, including the talisman Ian Poulter, that time has been spent recovering and relaxing, but it is back to the day job this week at the inaugural BMW Masters. There are 11 players from the Miracle in Medinah in the field this week, along with inspirational captain José María Olazábal. The guys were reunited on Tuesday along with The Ryder Cup itself for a photo shoot wearing traditional Chinese jackets in the colour of blue  - a nod to the special outfits they wore on that Sunday in memory of Seve. For the players this has been a week to catch up and reminisce a little about the unforgettable events that unfolded in Chicago.

Speaking to Ian the other day, you get the sense that he is still coming to terms with exactly what occurred.
“Can you believe we did that?” he asked me. “It was epic.”

Justin Rose, whose comeback against Phil Mickleson was crucial in keeping the European momentum going, also gave us an insight into what it has been like catching up with the players.

“This is the first time we've all had a chance to be together since that great match at Medinah and it's been good to hear how the boys have reacted to it and what the reaction has been for them all home individually,” he said. “We knew it was a great achievement at the time, but obviously when you start to hear how people watched it, what they thought of it when they watched it, really the magnitude of what we achieved that day definitely hit home.”

Rose always believes that tournaments such as the BMW Masters in Shanghai, where all the European Tour players stay on site in the same hotel, play an important role in fostering the team spirit that served Europe so well at Medinah.

"For years and years people have said why does the European Team seem to have more camaraderie than the American Team    I think that has changed.  I think the American Team had great camaraderie and that cannot be taken away from them.

“But in scenarios like this you see guys hang out together, thousands of miles from their family in an environment where maybe it's more difficult to go out and find restaurants and be on your own. You end up grouping together and I think that's why on The European Tour, the guys have a lot of tight knit friendships.

“In America, it's very easy to travel with your family.  So it comes to dinnertime, of course you're going to go spend time as a family unit,  whereas here you're a bunch of, for want of a better word, guys without families, and you're going to group together.

“It's good fun.  This hotel's great with snooker tables, table tennis, and the gym.  But definitely it's a work week in that perspective.  This week I'll focus on my fitness.  I'll focus on doing a bit more practice as well.  So I like these sort of weeks.”

Competitive edge

Golf is a sport growing in popularity in China but it still has a way to go to catch up on table tennis. So, ahead of the tournament we set up a table tennis challenge involving World Number One golfer Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and leading ranked Chinese golfer Wu A-shun and former World Number One table tennis player Timo Boll, who, like Martin, hails from Germany. The European Team enjoyed a bit of table tennis at the Ryder Cup and, of course it’s well known that Rory’s girlfriend is former tennis World Number One Caroline Wozniacki, so I’m sure he has picked up a few tips on the big court. But even the Northern Irishman was left bamboozled by some of the spin Timo put on his serves. That said, Rory did manage to take a point off Timo in their best of five match. He also beat both Martin and Wu, showing some nice skills, but admitted he had too much of a tennis swing for table tennis. Needless to say Rory exacted his revenge when Timo took part in a nearest the pin challenge.

The wonders of Shanghai

If you ever get chance to visit Shanghai then a trip to the stunning  M on the Bund restaurant is strongly recommended. With a balcony overlooking the Shanghai skyline, it’s the perfect place to take in one of the world’s most vibrant cities. And the food is rather good too.