BMW Masters presented by SRE Group preview

The European Tour's inaugural Race to Dubai Final Series gets underway this week with the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group at Lake Malaren in Shanghai, China.

Peter Hanson defends BMW Masters (Getty Images)

Lowdown: The European Tour's inaugural Race to Dubai Final Series gets underway this week with the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group at Lake Malaren in Shanghai, China.

An extremely strong field has assembled for this tournament where competitors will compete for a prize-fund of $7,000,000 or €5,120,000. Over the next four tournaments on the European Tour over $30 million is up for grabs, and the European Tour's Number 1 player for 2013 will be crowned after the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Peter Hanson of Sweden won the 2012 BMW Masters and is back to defend his title. He'll face stern competition from an impressive selection of the European Tour's best players.

Recent FedEx Cup winner Henrik Stenson currently leads the Race to Dubai and he'll undoubtedly be one of the men to beat this week. Also on the start sheet are Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

Last year, Hanson produced four superb rounds to finish one clear of Rory McIlroy, with Luke Donald in third.

"The victory last year was special," said Hanson. "To go up against Rory when he was World Number One and playing the best golf in the world at that time was something you don't get the chance to do that often, and to be able to sneak ahead of him to take the title was awesome."

The Masters Course at Lake Malaren is a Jack Nicklaus designed parkland layout featuring his usual blend of extensive bunkering and large water hazards. It's a visually intimidating course but, even though it can be stretched to 7,600 yards, it shouldn't prove overly taxing for the world's best - Peter Hanson's winning total of 21-under-par last year is confirmation of that.

Venue: Lake Malaren Golf Club, Shanghai, China Date: Oct 24-27 Course stats: par 72, 7,607 yards Purse: €5,120,000 Winner: €851,346 Defending Champion: Peter Hanson (-21) TV Coverage: Thursday 24 - Sky Sports 1 from 5.30am Friday 25 - Sky Sports 2 from 5.30am Saturday 26 - Sky Sports 3 from 5.30am Sunday 27 - Sky Sports 2 from 4.30am

Player Watch: All eyes will be on the star names - Stenson, McIlroy, Kaymer and Donald. But who else might be a factor this week?

Peter Uihlein - The young American has played some great stuff in Europe this year, second in the Welsh Open then losing out in a playoff for the Dunhill Links Championship to David Howell. He has all the skills to win this week.

Pablo Larrazabal - The streaky Spaniard is enjoying a good run of form. Tied ninth in the KLM Open then tied 17th in the Dunhill Links where he played some excellent golf. He was tied eighth on his last start in Portugal and would have done better had it not been for a mediocre final round.

Brett Rumford - Already a winner in China this year, Rumford is currently sixth on the Race to Dubai. He was sixth last week in Perth so comes into this event on good form.

Key Hole: 18th - A classic Nicklaus finishing hole: A dog-leg left with water all down the left hand side. It's 471 yards long so demands two solid blows and the more of the corner you cut off from the tee, the shorter the approach will be. Where Next? PGA Tour - CIMB Classic preview

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?