BMW has concluded a four year extension to its sponsorship agreement with The European Tour through to the end of the 2018 season. The agreement covers the German car manufacturer’s sponsorship of three tournaments on The European Tour: the flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, the long-standing BMW International Open in Germany and the BMW Masters in China. Also included is BMW’s position as Official Car to The European Tour and as a Partner of The Ryder Cup.
The extension was formally announced at BMW’s Park Lane dealership in central London where Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Sales and Marketing, and George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, shook hands on the deal which further cements BMW’s strong global position in golf.
Dr Robertson said, “The fact that we are extending all these commitments to 2018 and that we have chosen to announce this next step in our joint success story here at the BMW PGA Championship only serves to underline the significance of this event. It is a cornerstone of all our sponsorship commitments that we aim to create a special experience for everyone involved by highlighting BMW’s premium philosophy, while striving for a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. I believe we have achieved this with noteworthy success in the world of golf.”
George O’Grady stated, “Ever since we began our relationship with BMW, they have been a strong and trusted partner. This new agreement once again underlines the strength in our relationship and creates a platform for us to shape the future of The European Tour over the coming years. BMW’s support not only of our Flagship event at Wentworth, but also key events in Germany and China, further enhances The European Tour’s strategy of expansion throughout the world and I am delighted that we have secured our partnership for a further four years.”
Following the announcement, three leading professionals; Paul McGinley, the European Ryder Cup captain, Justin Rose, the reigning US Open Champion and Matteo Manassero, the reigning BMW PGA Champion, took part in a competition called “It’s Tee Time – Nearest the Pin Challenge” on three specially created greens in nearby Hyde Park.
In what he would like to think is a sign of things to come, victory went to Manassero, who showed he had kept his sublime touch from his victory at Wentworth a year earlier. With a tricky breeze coming off the Serpentine, each player had one shot at each of three tiny greens placed at 100 yards, 125 yards and 150 yards from a specially prepared tee. All came close, but Manassero came closer, the Italian finishing 4ft 1in (1m 35cm) from the flag at the 1st and a staggering 3ft 4in (.95m) from the flag at the 3rd with a supreme 8-iron shot that drew gasps from all those watching. As a reward, he received a remote-control model of the BMW i8 – the car that will be presented to the first player to ace the 14th hole on the West Course during this year’s BMW PGA Championship.
“If I keep hitting 8-irons like that I’d be very happy this week,” Manassero said. “That was a very tough test, but great fun as well. It’s great to do something like this with such a wonderful backdrop. And to show Paul what I can do!” Rose said: “That was a lot of fun. The greens were pretty small, so it’s going to be nice playing to greens that are slightly bigger than that. It was good practice, particularly with a breeze coming from the right. Matteo obviously had his ball under control today, he was hitting his ball in at just the right height and getting very close. He dominated us!”
McGinley was also impressed with Manassero, a player knocking on the Ryder Cup door, and said he also enjoyed the contest. “That was great fun in a fantastic setting,” he said. “Hyde Park at this time of year is really special. And what about Matteo? He played wonderfully. If he is as sharp as that this week then he’ll be a hard man to beat.”
All three players spoke highly of the BMW PGA Championship and praised BMW for taking the tournament to another level. “It’s a magnificent event,” Manassero said. “It was great to win it last year and I’ll do everything I can to win it again.” Rose remembers watching the championship as a boy and knows that great players have added their names to the roll call of champions in its 60 years. “It’s my ‘home’ event and one I used to come to as a kid,” he said. “It’s an event I really want to win. I’ve finished second twice and hope this year I’ll go one better. No one puts on better tournaments than BMW. You feel it’s a great tournament from the moment you come through the gates.”
“It’s great that the championship is in its 60th year – especially with BMW having elevated it to new levels over the past 10 years,” McGinley said. “It’s the one all of Europe’s players want to win. It’s a true flagship event.”