The European Tour stays in Shanghai for this week, with the BMW Masters following last week’s WGC HSBC Champions, which saw a maiden victory for 30-year-old Scot Russell Knox. It’s the penultimate event of the season, with next week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai drawing things to a close. So if you’re battling it out at the top of your fantasy golf mini league, or just trying to avoid the wooden spoon, this is an event you can’t afford to slip up on. Let’s see if we can help you out with some names to consider adding to your team…
This is just the fourth BMW Masters, with the three previous events all held at this year’s venue, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Lake Malaren Golf Club. It’s a meaty 7,594-yard par 72, with four par 5s and four par 3s. There’s room to play with off most of the tees, but water comes into play on several holes – hardly surprising, given the course is named after Sweden’s Lake Malaren.
World number six Justin Rose is the bookies’ favourite this week at 6/1, and we certainly wouldn’t bet against him. He won on Chinese a month ago, capturing the UBS Hong Kong Open, and hasn’t finished outside the top-six in his last two starts here (T-6 in 2012 and T-4 in 2014). He has nine top-16 finishes in his last ten starts, including seven top-six spots, and looks in the kind of form that could see him make a late push for top spot in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, where he currently sits in fifth.
Willett has made his desire to win the Race to Dubai clear: he’s playing in all four of the European Tour Final Series events, in spite of back troubles which usually force him to take at least one week off each month. With current Race to Dubai leader Rory McIlroy taking the week off, a top-25 finish for Willett could see him go top of the rankings. He’s played in all three previous editions of this event, improving his finish each time, from 30th in 2012, 27th in 2013, and 21st last year. A final-round 62 at last week’s WGC HSBC Champions will give him great momentum going into this week.
A T-7 at last week’s WGC HSBC Champions was the British Masters winner’s ninth top-ten of the season, five of which have come in his last eight starts. He was one of only three players to register four rounds in the 60s last week, suggesting a long season – this will be his 31st event – has led to consistency, rather than fatigue. Deceptively long, he should have the power to cope with a lengthy course that will play every bit of its 7,594 yards in what are likely to be wet conditions.
We backed Grace last week and he didn’t (really) disappoint, finishing T5 after leading with an opening-round 63. He was fourth at the halfway stage here last year before falling to T-16, but in his best season to date, we’d expect the world number 20 to improve on that this time round.
Reed’s T-7 at the WGC HSBC Champions represented a third straight top-ten on Asian soil, following a third at the Hong Kong Open and a tenth at the CIMB Classic. He’s not the longest on Tour, with a driving average of 279.2 yards, but he’s a formidable competitor, and when he gets it going on the greens there are few who can live with him.
With a win, a top-five and and two other top-13s in his last six starts, the world number 32 has found some excellent late-season form after missing the cut at the PGA Championship. He finished T-16 here in 2012 and second in 2013, while closing rounds of 68-66-68 at last week’s WGC HSBC Champions are cause for optimism going into this week.