Big guns lined up for BMW Asian Open in Shanghai

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 February, 2004, 12:00am

Padraig Harrington, Greg Norman, John Daly, Alex Cejka and Zhang Lianwei will be the top drawer attractions when the BMW Asian Open tees off in Shanghai in May with a US$1.5 million prize fund - the biggest purse in a Chinese tournament this season.

PGA European Tour and the China Golf Association are giving joint sanction to the event, which is the third edition of the BMW Asian Open but the first time it will have been held in China. The PGA European Tour will be represented by 66 players; a further 66 players will come from the Asian region along with 16 players from the China Golf Association and eight sponsor invites.

The event will be played at the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club from May 13 to 16.

One player sure to attract strong support from the galleries at the first BMW Asian Open in Shanghai is China's top-rated professional, Zhang. He became the first Chinese golfer to win an event on the European Tour international schedule, taking the Singapore Masters title from the favourite Ernie Els in January 2003.

Zhang has played in numerous European Tour events, his best previous finish being fifth in the 2000 Malaysian Open.

He is also no stranger to success in China, having won the Macau Open in 2001 and successfully defended his title the following year, holding off a strong challenge from three-time Major winner Nick Price to win at the fifth play-off hole.

Harrington will be looking to continue his history of success in the BMW Asian Open and in Asian competition, having won both the Hong Kong Open 2003 and the BMW Asian Open 2002 in Taiwan.

His impressive career includes a victory for Ireland at the World Cup of Golf in 1997 and being a member of the successful European Ryder Cup Team in 2002.

Greg Norman, the legendary Great White Shark, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001 and was the first to surpass US$10 million in career earnings. But his crowning achievements are British Open Championships in 1986 and 1993. In total, Norman has won 86 professional events around the world, including 20 US PGA Tour titles. He also has 29 top-10 finishes in majors.

John Daly is a former BMW International Open winner, winning the event in 2001. His top achievements include winning the 1995 British Open and the 1991 US PGA Championship. Known as one of the game's true power hitters, Daly won his record 11th driving Distance crown with a mark of 306.8 topping his own 2001 best of 306.7.