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European Tour: What to Watch for at the BMW Masters

Photo: Getty Images

Danny Willett during the second round at the Omega European Masters.

It's the penultimate event of the 2015 Race to Dubai this week. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson headline the field in the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai.

Just 78 players will battle it out for this title and an impressive prize fund of $7,000,000. The field is made up of: those players available from the top-60 on the Official World Golf Ranking, tournament invites and the best ranked players on the Race to Dubai.

This is the fourth instalment of the BMW Masters. The first event in 2012 was won by Sweden’s Peter Hanson. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain and Germany’s Marcel Siem have been the victors since then.

Eighteen-time major champion Jack Nicklaus designed the course at Lake Malaren. It’s a parkland-style track with extensive bunkering and large water hazards. A testing and visually intimidating layout, it measures just under 7,600 yards.

Four things to watch for at the BMW Masters:

1. The battle for the Race to Dubai title will heat up this week. Danny Willett is less than 100,000 points behind Rory McIlroy with just two events to play. Willett stars at Lake Malaren but McIlroy doesn’t, meaning the Englishman could well have the lead in the season-long competition going into the final event in Dubai, if he finishes well in Shanghai. Also in the hunt, and with a chance to go to Dubai in the box seat are Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Rose – 3rd, 4th and 5th on the standings, respectively. All could theoretically take the Race to Dubai lead this week.

RELATED: Danny Willett Swing Sequence

Photo:

Danny Willett during the second round at the Omega European Masters.

2. The top 60 on the Race to Dubai standings after this event will qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. Marcus Fraser is in 60th place, but there are five players who will be taking aim at him. Kristoffer Broberg, Graeme Storm, Scott Hend, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Benjamin Hebert are ranked 61st to 66th and all start in Shanghai. If they perform well, they could put themselves into the mix.

Photo:

Marcus Fraser has a one-shot lead headed to the final round of the Thailand Golf Championship.

3. The top 15 on the standings after the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai will share the Race to Dubai bonus pool, so there’s an incentive for many to push on up the rankings. Henrik Stenson will be looking to do just that. A former Race to Dubai winner, the Swede is in the 18th spot on the table. Ross Fisher of England is 15th and he’ll be hopeful of a good result in this event – he was runner-up last year and he finished in a tie for third at last week’s HSBC Champions tournament.

RELATED: Henrik Stenson Golf Swing Analysis

Photo:

Henrik Stenson's birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the Tour Championship earned him an extra $1 million.

4. Patrick Reed continues his assault on the European Tour this week. The 2014 Ryder Cup star played in Hong Kong and then again last week in the HSBC Champions. He was tied third and tied seventh in those two events. He has both PGA and European Tour membership and may continue to play on both circuits again in 2016. He’s 32nd on the Race to Dubai standings.

Photo:

Patrick Reed plays a shot on the first hole during the round one of the 2015 BMW Championship.

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