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Top field announced for BMW Asian Open

BMW today announced the line-up for the 2006 edition of its premier Asian golf tournament, the BMW Asian Open. The China Golf Association, PGA European Tour and Asian Tour tri-sanctioned tournament will return to the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club for a third consecutive year from Thursday 20 April to Sunday 23 April, 2006.

Headlining the international field for the BMW Asian Open 2006, which offers a minimum prize purse of US$1.5 million, is Colin Montgomerie , currently ranked 12th in the world. Other star players confirmed for the event include European Tour Order of Merit leader David Howell (world ranking: 14th), English star Luke Donald (world ranking: 16th), 2004 BMW Asian Open champion Miguel Angel Jiménez , currently ranked 33rd in the world, six-time Major winner European star Nick Faldo , Thomas Björn from Denmark (world ranking: 29th) and China's top ranked professional golfer Zhang Lian-Wei.

Jochen Goller , General Manager, Marketing for BMW Group Region China commented on this year's tournament saying, “Since moving the BMW Asian Open to China in 2004, this tournament and China 's golf scene have enjoyed steady growth. The BMW Asian Open's success initiated an important boost for the development of the sport in China . BMW has thus contributed to the establishment of this event among the premier tournaments in China , the world's fastest growing golf market”.

Montgomerie or Monty as he is known to adoring fans worldwide is coming off a career-revitalising season in 2005, which included two titles and 14 top ten finishes, including a second place finish at The Open Championship. He capped his season in Asia with his victory at the UBS Hong Kong Open. His performance in 2005 secured him his eighth European Tour Order of Merit title and re-entry into the top ten in the world rankings after a three-year absence. Rejuvenated after his success of last year, Monty will be gunning to add another title to his illustrious resume in Shanghai .

Zhang Lian-Wei, who made history in 2003 by becoming the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event at the Singapore Masters, again enters the tournament as the local favourite and is certainly one of the top prospects to win.

Zhang, who finished 14th at last year's BMW Asian Open, commented on his competition for 2006 saying, “The BMW Asian Open always attracts some of the world's best players. I will have to be on top of my game to do well, but no matter who wins, it is a great challenge and a great honour for me to play in such a high-level tournament in China .”

Two British stars to look out for in Shanghai are current European Tour Order of Merit leader David Howell and current world number 16 ranked Luke Donald, who are both members of the triumphant 2004 Ryder Cup European Team.

Last year, Howell came back from serious injury to win the BMW International Open in August, before outgunning world number one Tiger Woods in Shanghai to win the HSBC Champions Trophy. Donald, who has two wins on the European Tour so far, won the 2004 WGC World Cup and claimed the Target World Championship last December.

Danish golfer Thomas Björn , the current world number 29, is one name that Asian golf fans will be familiar with. In addition to finishing third in last year's BMW Asian Open, Björn notched a fourth placed finish at the Caltex Masters in Singapore and finished tied for third in the TCL Classic in China in 2005. Björn enjoyed six other top ten finishes in 2005 including a T2nd finish at the 87th PGA Championship in the USA .

Miguel Angel Jiménez winner of the BMW Asian Open, BMW International Open and Hong Kong Open in 2004 and currently ranked 33rd in the world rankings is returning for another shot at the title in Shanghai . He will be joined by another legendary European pro, British golfer Nick Faldo , winner of six majors in his illustrious career.

Marco Kaussler , Tournament Director of the BMW Asian Open commented on the confirmed players for the 2006 tournament saying, "We are very proud to welcome once again an outstanding players' field to the BMW Asian Open in 2006. With international superstars like Monty, David Howell, Luke Donald, Miguel Jiménez , Nick Faldo , Thomas Björn and Zhang Lian-Wei in the field, this tournament looks set to draw large crowds to the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club and attract new fans for golf in China ."

Last July, BMW announced its three-year partnership with the CGA to sponsor the BMW China Junior Golf Team. The team consists of 21 promising Chinese players between 10 and 16 years and trained in the United States in February this year.

“BMW is delighted to announce that 2 members of the BMW China Junior Golf Team will - for the first time - get a chance to compete against the world's best players in a European Tour event like the BMW Asian Open 2006,” added Jochen Goller . “With our close co-operation with the Chinese Golf Association, we hope to contribute to the successful development of golf sports in China . And who knows, the next golf superstar could be one of China 's very own players?”

February 11, 2006


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