2014 BMW Masters Preview
The BMW Masters in Shanghai will see Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose complete for a share of the $7million prize fund.
The top three will all fancy their chances in the event but face tough competition with Thomas Bjorn, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and reigning Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano all confirming their participation.
And if you already know who you want to back for the title, Paddy Power will give you a free £20 bet, if you bet £10 today.
McIlroy, Stenson and Rose will also face four wildcards along with 14 chinese golfers who will be selected by the Chinese Golf Association.
Spain’s Fernandez-Castano lifted his seventh European Tour title with victory in the competition last year.
The 33-year-old defeated Francesco Molinari by one-stroke with a score -11.
He ended 2013 7th in the ‘Race to Dubai’ rankings, a career high, but he has been unable to replicate that form this year.
He is well down the rankings this year, with just two top 50 finishes leading up to the PGA Championship.
Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn could be a real threat to the big three, meanwhile, with the Dane, who turned professional in 1993, enjoying a very good season.
He finished tied for fourth in the Made in Denmark tournament, tied for 15th in WGC Bridgestone Invitational and tied for 26th in the 143rd Open Championship.
With 15 European tours victories, Bjorn is Denmark’s most successful ever golfer and could prove a stern test for McIlroy, Stenson and Rose.
Scottish Open champion Rose, however, has also been in solid form along with his Irish and Swedish Ryder Cup allies.
Rose finished tied for 4th at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and enjoyed top 25 finishes in both the PGA Championship and US Open.
McIlroy, of course, won both those competitions and he lifted the BMW Masters in 2011 under its form guise of the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters.
The Ulsterman finished -18 that year and defeated American Anthony Kim in a play-off for the tile.
While Stenson has enjoyed four top five finishes at the US Open, BMW International Open, US PGA Championship and the Nordea Masters this year.
The consistent Swedish star will undoubtedly be in the mix once again.
Graeme McDowell has had a productive year, with victory in the Alstom Open De France.
The 35-year-old, who has 10 European Tour victories to his name, also produced three top 10 finishes in the Irish Open, Bridgestone Invitational and 2014 Open Championship.
Ian Poulter finished tied for 17th at the US Open, meanwhile, and he performed admirably in the BMW PGA Championship finishing tied for 26th.
The 38-year-old has been in inconsistent form, however, and finished 103rd at the Scottish Open in July.
He was then unable to produce any performance of note at the PGA Championship or Open Championship, finishing tied for 59th and 73rd respectively.