It was not so much a Race to Dubai on Wednesday but a race to the line as three Ryder Cup stars and one of China’s top golfers rose to a fun challenge at Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai on the eve of the BMW Masters. Ian Poulter (England) and Wu Ashun (China) felt they made an unbeatable partnership in the electrifying BMW i8, but they had not reckoned on the fearsome fighting spirit of rivals Justin Rose (England) and Paul McGinley (Ireland).
In competitive terms, it looked like a non-starter. For while Poulter and Wu were able to call on plenty of horse power – apt considering this is the Chinese Year of the Horse – in their plug-in hybrid sports car, Rose and McGinley had nothing but pedal power to rely on. Their mode of transport? A tandem. It is amazing what determination and cunning can do. With McGinley relying on the tactical skills he used in captaining Europe to a resounding victory over the United States at Gleneagles (Scotland) last month, the ‘race’ was anything but a foregone conclusion.
So while Poulter and Wu had plenty of speed to call on, Rose and McGinley had all the guile. After all, a bike doesn’t have to stick to the road does it? You could say that one team took the ‘high’ road, the other took the ‘low’ road. In the event, a dead heat seemed a fair result. For Poulter and Wu there was a little disappointment. But for Rose and McGinley it was Joy unconfined.
“When I had the steady hands of the captain up front, I felt I was in good hands,” Rose said. “It was like the tortoise and the hare. We cunningly took a short cut at the end to make a race of it and found a way to catch them!”
McGinley added: “It’s all good fun, although a little different getting on a tandem,” he said, while Poulter had nothing but praise for the car. “I love driving the BMW i8,” the Englishman said. “I had one to test for a week and I’ve got to say it’s really impressive. That’s tipped me over the edge. I might buy one – or I could win one for a hole-in-one this week. That would be good.”
Knowing that a draw was not what any of the players wanted it was decided to settle matters with a nearest-the-hole shootout from a bunker at the 18th. All four players hit their ball at the same time and Wu emerged triumphant after finding the hole. Spectacular.
“This was great fun,” said Wu. “Driving with Ian Poulter in the BMW i8 was fantastic. I think this car can go really fast. And then, after a fun race against Paul McGinley and Justin Rose, I managed to hole the decisive bunker shot. I didn’t think much before the shot – and when the ball went in, it was pure joy.”
After the entertaining video production, Rose commented: “BMW do a fantastic job of hosting tournaments all around the world. They have got such a consistent brand and consistent way of delivering things, and just the way they put together all the infrastructure is incredible. This also goes for the promotional stuff. They are an exciting company to work with and be a part of. And as golfers, I think obviously we very much appreciate the support they give the Tour internationally, both PGA TOUR and European Tour, and over here in Asia.”