BMW Masters Preview

The European Tour stops off in Shanghai, China, this week for its penultimate event. We take a look at the favourites…

The BMW Masters is the last tournament before the Race to Dubai's final showdown at the prestigious Jumeirah Golf Estate at the DP World Tour Championship.

As a result, the 78 strong field – representative of 22 nations around the world – will be desperate to gather all the points they can before the European Tour circus heads to Dubai.

A notable absentee is Race to Dubai leader Rory McIlroy, who has prior commitments this weekend. However, whatever the result on Sunday, the Ulsterman has confirmed that he will be in Dubai to defend his title. 

"I still rate my chances," quipped McIlroy.

"I obviously know the course very well and Dubai is a bit of a second home for me, plus I'm going for the double after winning there earlier in the season [in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic]. So I'm looking forward to it."

Hot on his heels and present in Shanghai is Danny Willett, fresh off his scintillating ten under 62 in the final round of the WGC HSBC Champions, which earned him third place and valuable points towards his cause.

The Englishman has had six top-ten finishes in 2015 and should be a force to be reckoned with this weekend.

"I've been able to post some really good numbers around the world," said Willet. 

"Hopefully I can keep that going for two more weeks."

Joining Willett in the favourites pool is Justin Rose, who is also on a hot streak with three top six finishes from his last three starts. Despite being focused on his PGA Tour commitments, the South African-born player is fifth in the Race to Dubai standings.

"I feel very good about my game," said the world number six.

"Getting back from Hong Kong, it was more a case of relaxing and recharging the batteries before a bit of travelling and one final last-ditch effort to try and overtake Rory and Danny and a couple of the other guys ahead of me."

The perennial bridesmaid of 2015, Henrik Stenson, has to get a mention for his five runner-up finishes this season. A win is surely around the corner for the consistent Swede, but then again, we say that each week.

Also playing consistent golf is Patrick Reed, who arrives in Shanghai off the back of a T3, T10 and T7.

Punters should watch out for the South African duo of Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen – currently fourth and sixth on the Race to Dubai rankings – who will no doubt be looking to pick up vital points as they chase down McIlroy.

Finally, one can never discount a defending champion. Marcel Siem edged Alexander Levy and Ross Fisher in a thrilling play-off for his fourth European Tour title. However, it should be noted that the German has not won since.

Doug Mattushek