London. An announcement looking to the future, a meeting of champions spanning six decades, and a 2014 winner in Rory McIlroy, who elevated the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth to new levels. From start to finish, celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the European Tour’s flagship event – and the tenth under the BMW banner – were pure perfection.
Few could have predicted at the start of today’s final round that Northern Ireland’s McIlroy would make up seven strokes on Thomas Björn (Denmark), the overnight leader, to storm through to a stunning victory. The former world No1 produced one of the great rounds in the history of the championship, a 66 that included an eagle and six birdies (five on the inward nine), for a 14 under par total of 274 and victory by one stroke over Shane Lowry (Ireland), and two over Björn (75) and Luke Donald (England), the former champion, who had a round of 70.
“I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Rory McIlroy for a fantastic victory in the 2014 BMW PGA Championship,” said Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Sales and Marketing BMW. “I would like to say how honoured we are to be title partner of this prestigious event for the tenth consecutive year. And we have taken our commitment one step further by extending our partnership with the European Tour for another four years. This is a commitment we are very proud to make. And we look forward to many more thrilling tournaments, such as this week’s, here at Wentworth. There is such a great atmosphere here. You can really sense the passion for this event and for this iconic golf course. This place always has a very special feeling. Some great names battled it out this year, but Rory McIlroy did an outstanding job of taming the West Course.”
BMW and the European Tour announced on Monday that their successful partnership will now run until 2018. A number of top professionals then launched the tournament week with an unprecedented “It’s Tee Time – Nearest the Pin Challenge” in London’s iconic Hyde Park. The following day brought together a meeting of champions from each of the six decades of the tournament’s history, who posed for photos with BMW Classic Cars. Thursday was all about the sensational start made by Björn, whose 62 was not only the lowest opening round in the tournament’s 60-year history but also set a course record for the remodelled West Course.
Among McIlroy’s birdies, he chipped in at the 10th, got up and down from sand at the 12th and 18th, and rolled in a putt of around eight metres at the 13th. It was a masterclass in all aspects of the game. “I was able to relax on the golf course and to play the way I wanted to,” said McIlroy, who won a first prize of 791,660 Euros. “Everything came together. It seemed that everything fell my way. This win just validates all the hard work that I’ve put in this year.”
The German challenge was a close-run affair, with Marcel Siem finishing just one stroke ahead of Martin Kaymer, his playing partner, on eight under par. Siem had a 68 to Kaymer’s 69. “At first I felt slightly under pressure playing with Martin, who had just won The Players’ Championship,” Siem said. “But we get on well and I eventually settled down. I’m looking forward to meeting up again in Cologne (at the BMW International Open next month).”
Kaymer concurred: “I rather like the fact that the tournament alternates between Munich and Cologne,” he said. “However, it is never easy to play at home, particularly in Cologne, as people have rather high expectations and hopes. You want to do your best and not let them down. That makes it a relatively tricky tournament to play. On the other side of the coin, it is a great event and really enjoyable.”
Henrik Stenson (Sweden) needed to finish high on the leaderboard to have any chance overhauling Adam Scott (Australia) at the top of the world rankings and left Wentworth wondering if he had done quite enough after sharing seventh place, on eight under par. His hopes were dependent on Scott’s own performance at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in the US later in the day, so he was left with an anxious wait. It means the Swede has every chance of gracing the BMW International Open as the world No1. “I’m looking forward to Cologne,” he said. “It should be a really good tournament.”
The BMW “Hole-in-One Award” remained unclaimed. Over four days’ of play at Wentworth, no player was able to ace the par-three 14th hole and thus drive off with the pioneering BMW i8.