After a three week rest, and hours in the pubs of England, and Northern Ireland, talking about their victory at Medinah, most of Team Europe went back to work on Thursday at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, China. The 7259 Yard, par 72, Jack Nicklaus designed Lake Malaren Golf Club is playing host to this late fall stop on the European Tour.
Jamie Donaldson shot an opening round -10 under par 62, to take a four stroke lead over several Ryder Cup members, including World Number 1 Rory McIlroy. Even European Team Captain Jose Maria Olazabal got back on the course. He would shoot a -5 under par 67 which was good for a 4th place tie with McIlroy, and Michael Hoey. Ryder Cuppers, Peter Hanson, and Francesco Molinari went to the clubhouse at -6 under par and tied for second place 4 strokes back.
Padraig Harrington, who was just hours away from boarding a plane for Shanghai to play in China, was selected to fill the void at The World Series Of Golf when British Open Champ Ernie Els broke his ankle playing tennis with his daughter. Harrington won the two day tournament over Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley. Rory McIlroy had already committed to the BMW Masters, and his position was filled by Keegan Bradley.
The Masters Course at Lake Malaren is a large, virtually treeless conglomeration of sand trucked in from somewhere, and water. Everywhere you turn on the golf course, you are greeted with waste bunkers, and green-side bunkers. According to the website, the course was designed to be aesthetically pleasing while also being strategically sound. After watching some of the first round on the Golf Channel, it will be a few years for the aesthetically pleasing part to kick in.
Last year, this tournament was called The Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters, and was on the Asian Tour. Rory McIlroy was the first winner in 2011, shooting an -18 under par 270. He was victorious over Anthony Kim in a playoff. The 2011 tournament featured only 30 players, with the winner(McIlroy) pocketing $2 Million dollars.
The tournament has been picked up by BMW, put on the European Tour, and is now called the BMW Masters. The field was increased to 78 golfers, and the prize money increased to $7 Million Dollars for 2012.