Having gone head to head on the final day in a titanic tussle 12 months ago, Peter Hanson and Rory McIlroy are hoping to renew their rivalry in the second edition of the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group, which kicks off The European Tour’s inaugural ‘Final Series’.
Yesterday, the duo were joined in a star players press conference in downtown Shanghai by Hanson’s fellow Swede Henrik Stenson, the current leader of The Race to Dubai, and Chinese star Ashun Wu.
Having been put through their musical paces by a troupe of Chinese drummers, Hanson and McIlroy sat down to relive their exploits at Lake Malaren Golf Club last year.
McIlroy, who was then the world’s pre-eminent player, pushed Hanson all the way in the inaugural US$7million tournament, but ultimately came up one shot shy of the Swede’s 21 under par winning total.
Fast forward 12 months, and McIlroy has slipped to sixth in the World Ranking and is still searching for his first victory of the 2013 campaign but, buoyed by his morale-boosting joint runner-up finish in last week’s Kolon Korean Open, the Northern Irishman is confident of going one better this year.
He said: “We had a great battle last year. Peter pulled a few shots clear of me early on, then I played some good golf on the back nine and managed to claw it back. But he played some great golf under pressure over the last few holes, and in the end he was a deserving winner. It’ll be good if I can put myself in a similar position again this year, and I feel like I’m playing well enough to do that.
Like McIlroy, Hanson also currently finds himself outside the all-important top 60 players who qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship
Stenson, who will play with McIlroy and his compatriot Graeme McDowell in the first round, is struggling with a wrist injury he sustained in practice, but remains hopeful of competing and continuing a sensational run of form.