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BMW PGA Championship: "Tee-Time" in Hyde Park

May 20, 2014

BMW and the European Tour announced in London this morning that they would be extending their successful long-term partnership through to 2018. Immediately afterwards, Justin Rose, Matteo Manassero and Paul McGinley got the BMW PGA Championship's diamond jubilee celebrations off to a flying start when they took part in a competition called "It's Tee Time - Nearest the Pin Challenge" on a specially designed three-hole course in London's most iconic of Royal parks, Hyde Park.

The great triumvirate - in order, the US Open champion, the defending BMW PGA champion and Team Europe's Ryder Cup Captain - put their short-game skills to the test in what they hope will be a week that ends with victory at the European Tour's flagship event at Wentworth.

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."

The BMW PGA Championship is in its 60th year - and the tenth under the prestigious BMW banner. To celebrate the rich heritage and exciting future of the tournament, BMW displayed the iconic BMW 507, a car once owned by Elvis Presley and which was launched at the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show, coincidentally the first year of the 'Players' Flagship', as well as the ground-breaking BMW i8. A combination of BMW TwinPower Turbo engine and BMW eDrive technology produce a maximum system output of 266 kW/362 hp and give the BMW i8 the performance characteristics of a pure-bred sports car (0 - 100 km/h / 62 mph in 4.4 seconds) accompanied by fuel economy and emissions figures more familiar from a small car.

The honour of driving the BMW 507 through the Hyde Park after the challenge went to Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Sales and Marketing BMW, and George O'Grady, Chief Executive of the European Tour. This roadster is one of the most beautiful sports cars of all time. Almost all BMW 507s, in many cases bought originally by international celebrities, are still on the road today.

Rose and McGinley shared another legendary roadster, the BMW Z8. Series production of this car began in 1999, with the car having already starred in a James Bond film as 007's chosen form of transport. The styling of the BMW Z8 contained echoes of the 507, but under its aluminium outer skin was an array of ultra-modern technology, including an aluminium space frame and the high-performance engine from the BMW M5.

Manassero, whose initials are 'MM', fittingly took a seat in the BMW M1, the first BMW with the famous letter 'M'. Right from the start in 1978, the M1 was the fastest road-going sports car built in Germany and reached a top speed of 264.7 km/h or 164.1 mph.

The BMW PGA Championship, which begins on Thursday, has attracted the cream of European golf. So while Rose, Manassero and McGinley have grand designs on this most coveted of titles, they will face stiff competition from the likes of Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy, to name just five.

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