Sports / Golf

Stellar lineup for BMW Masters

By China Daily (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-01 07:10

Fans are looking forward to another galaxy of stars at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, which will be held from Oct 28-Nov 2 at the Lake Malaren Golf Club - and they can expect the same until at least 2018, thanks to a four-year partnership extension between BMW and the European Tour.

British Open champion and world No 2 Rory McIlroy, No 3 Henrik Stenson, No 4 Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, defending champion Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Thomas Bjorn, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Wu Ashun are already confirmed for the $7-million event, which kicks off the finals series of the European Tour's Race to Dubai.

A total of 78 players will tee off in Shanghai, and there won't be a cut.

 Stellar lineup for BMW Masters

Rory McIlroy watches a shot during a practice round for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club's South Course on Wednesday. Gregory Shamus / Getty Images / AFP

The top 60 pros in the world rankings are eligible (as of Oct 6), with the remaining spots awarded after the Race to Dubai on Oct 26. There will also be four wild cards and 14 homegrown players nominated by the China Golf Association.

"We always talk about the growth of the game in Asia and particularly in China. The fact that golf is now an Olympic sport is going to kick in and it will be really important to have a foothold in the Chinese market - for both BMW and golf," said Bjorn, who currently ranks second in the Race to Dubai.

"We want to see players coming through from all parts of the world, and the Chinese are now making a big push. The BMW Masters provides them with more opportunities. There are some players coming through and showing they have great potential and more will follow. There are so many brands involved in golf but BMW throws so much behind it. We are grateful to have them on board."

Last season, the BMW Masters was awarded "Best Sport Event" by the General Administration of Sport of China and the CGA.

Wang Liwei, vice-chairman of the CGA, thanked BMW for its commitment to promoting golf in China, and also said: "I would love to see BMW receive this award again this year. This perfectly-organized event, with a great atmosphere, has definitely earned it.

"I would like to encourage all Chinese golfers to take this great opportunity that the BMW Masters offers them - particularly looking ahead to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro."

Laura Wang, vice-president of sales for BMW China Automotive Trading Ltd, said: "Through its successful debut in 2012 and its upgrade to the opening event of the final series last year, a world-class tournament has been successfully established, both for spectators and participants. Our thanks goes to the China Golf Association, the European Tour, our presenting partner, SRE Group, and the Lake Malaren Golf Club for their great support."

Christian Masanz, head of BMW Golfsport marketing, said the timing of the tournament was crucial.

"The decision to add a new highlight to the Asian golfing calendar was absolutely right, and important," he said.

"The development of the BMW Masters in two years is impressive and is a strong signal in one of our most important markets."

(China Daily 08/01/2014 page23)

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