European Tour, CGA unveil BMW Masters
The European Tour, the China Golf Association (CGA) and BMW unveiled a new tournament on Monday, the $7 million BMW Masters at the Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai, which will be played from Oct 25-28.
It will bring the total number of tournaments on The 2012 Race to Dubai to 47, and will become the third European Tour event on China this year. It will also be the first of two consecutive weeks of European Tour action in China, preceding the WGC-HSBC Champions at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen.
The announcement of the tournament was made by Ian Robertson, member of the board of management of BMW AG, Marketing and Sales; George O’Grady, European Tour chief executive; and Zhang Xiaoning, vice-chairman of the CGA and chief of the China Multi-balls Sports Administrative Center, the governing body of the sport, at the Beijing Auto Show on Monday.
The field will comprise 78 players, led by world No 1 Rory McIlroy, with the majority coming from the top 100 players in the world. Four players will be invited by the organizers and 14 will come from the CGA.
“I am already looking forward to teeing off at the new tournament,” said McIlroy, who won last year’s Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters, which is now being replaced by the BMW Masters. “Thanks to the involvement of BMW, the tournament will now be one of the very best events in the world. That obviously makes it all the more exciting to defend my title there.”
To help launch the tournament, 2011 British Open champion Darren Clarke teed off from the BMW exhibition stand using an exploding golden ball. McIlroy’s fellow Northern Irishman Clarke was the last man to win the BMW Asian Open, in 2008.
Clarke recalled his emotional victory.
“I still have very vivid memories of what was a great tournament,” he said. “I cannot praise BMW’s commitment to golf highly enough. For years, BMW has demonstrated around the world just how close the game is to the brand’s heart. Golf would be in a far worse state without the involvement of BMW. We professionals all really appreciate what the company is doing for the game.”
“As the name indicates, the BMW Masters will play a particularly significant role in BMW’s commitment to the sport as a global golf player,” he said. “The BMW Masters is another highlight in our sustainable global golf strategy.”
O’Grady said: “We are proud of many partnerships we enjoy across the world of golf, but one of the most enduring is with BMW for whom this tournament represents the third title sponsorship on the European Tour in 2012, and the 45th in total over the past 23 years since the first BMW International Open in Munich in 1989. The European Tour has always been made to feel so welcome by the Chinese Golf Association, with whom we also have a strong committed partnership.”
CGA boss Zhang said: “We admire the outstanding vision and shrewd market investment of BMW Group. The BMW Masters will play a positive role in promoting the popularization and development of the world and China golf games, as well as taking the competitiveness of golf to a new level. At the same time, I hope all the contestants present the charisma of golf for the fans giving their best performances.”
BMW’s long-term commitment to the European Tour also includes the tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in England, and the BMW International Open in Germany.
The Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai, home to the BMW Masters in October, was designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus. It was used for tournament play for the first time last year.
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