BMW Masters: “Final Series” opens in dazzling fashion
Shanghai. Drum roll for the European Tour’s new “Final Series” and the highlight of the 2013 BMW Golfsport season: the BMW Masters, which will take place from 24th to 27th October at Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai, was officially opened on Tuesday. Last year’s Race to Dubai winner Rory McIlroy, the current leader of the European Tour’s money list Henrik Stenson, defending BMW Masters champion Peter Hanson and crowd favourite Wu Ashun represented the 78-strong, world-class field at the opening press conference. After a performance of traditional Chinese drumming, during which the four pros also tried their hand with drumsticks rather than golf clubs, the players were each presented with a Chinese fortune cookie, inside which were promising prophecies ahead of the battle for one of the most coveted titles on the European Tour.
In his welcome speech, Karsten Engel, President & CEO BMW Group Region China, was keen to stress the significance of the BMW Masters as the opening tournament of the new Final Series on the European Tour, with whom BMW has been closely associated for many years as a partner. He also emphasised just how important China is to BMW. “As our largest market, China plays a key role in BMW’s global involvement in golf. The BMW Masters plays a major role in our global golf strategy and is the perfect addition to our worldwide commitment. We are delighted to be able to present our customers and spectators with the highest standard of golf thanks to the top-class field assembled here. BMW, as a partner of the China Golf Association, is also supporting the further development of the game of golf in China.”
The first title was decided directly after the opening press conference – at the “Star Player Challenge” in the modern district of Pudong. Stenson, Hanson and Ashun headed to the “Bund” – the promenade along the bank of the Huangpu River – where they played out an exciting “Nearest-the-Pin” competition against the impressive Shanghai skyline. The stars’ task was made all the more tricky by a “visual obstacle”, over which they had to play: the new BMW i8. The plug-in hybrid is the sports car of the future and caught the eye of the Chinese spectators, almost stealing the show from the four star golfers. Hanson was the least distracted during the “Star Player Challenge”, landing his ball closest to the hole and heading into the 2013 BMW Masters on the back of a victory. The reward for his efforts was a BMW i8 – but, unfortunately for him, only a 1:14 radio-controlled scale model.
Quotes after the opening of the 2013 BMW Masters:
Peter Hanson (Sweden):
“It feels good to start the week with a win. Henrik Stenson had piled on some real pressure by landing all four of his balls on the green. In the end, however, my ball was a bit closer to the pint. It feels very special to return to Shanghai as defending champion. I still look back on 2012 fondly: the battle with Rory McIlroy was a real thriller – with a great outcome for me. I am struggling with a back injury and am not quite 100 per cent. However, one thing is clear: when I stand on that first tee, I will do my very best and will fight hard to get another good result at the BMW Masters.”
Henrik Stenson (Sweden):
“I have been very busy since winning the FedExCup. It has been one appointment after the other. I am now really looking forward to the Final Series, which kicks off with the BMW Masters. I am obviously very happy with the season so far. It has been my best year so far. I am leading the Race to Dubai, but it is far from over. As such, it is important to make a good start to the crucial final phase. My right wrist has given me a few problems recently, which is why I am wearing a tape dressing. That’s why I will be starting the week looking like ‘Spiderman’.
Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland):
“The course at Lake Malaren suits me and I have always played well here. The battle with Peter Hanson in 2012 was great fun, and I would obviously like to be up there at the top of the leaderboard again this year. I have been really happy with my putting recently. Generally speaking, this is an important week for me here at the BMW Masters. It is all about putting yourself in a good position in the Race to Dubai. I am still yet to win a tournament in 2013. It will certainly not be then end of the world if I don’t get a victory, but maybe it will come here in Shanghai.”
Wu Ashun (China):
“I am happy to be back at the BMW Masters. I know the course very well and feel comfortable there. Golf in China is developing in the right direction. Thanks in part to the support of BMW and, of course, to the efforts of the China Golf Association, I am confident that this country will soon produce a true champion. I, personally, want to put on a good display over the course of the week. It would be particularly nice to win that BMW M6 Gran Coupé with a hole-in-one on the 17th.”
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