The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club saw new Championship records set and a new champion crowned. A crowd of 23,786 attended the Sunday of The European Tour’s flagship event and saw Rory McIlroy lift the coveted BMW PGA Championship trophy at the sun-drenched and atmospheric 18th hole amphitheatre.
The event delivered a superb package of fun, celebrity spotting and world-class golf. After a practice day on Tuesday, a stellar cast of more than 50 celebrities lined-up on Wednesday alongside the best golfers in the world for the official curtain raiser to the BMW PGA Championship; the annual Celebrity Pro-Am.
Former World Number One, McIlroy lined-up alongside his Manchester United idols, Peter Schmeichel, Phil Neville and Teddy Sheringham, while Olympic medallist Eve Muirhead led the way for the ladies, playing off a handicap of three.
US Open Champion Justin Rose and Radio 2 Breakfast Show host Chris Evans led the afternoon’s action, along with fellow countryman David Howell who tackled the West Course with a rugby contingent of Chris Robshaw, Mike Tindall and Zinzan Brooke. It was a day enjoyed by almost 12,000 spectators, the biggest celebrity Pro-Am crowd in the history of the Championship.
Thursday saw the start of the tournament and a new course record for the West Course, set by Dane Thomas Björn, who topped the leaderboard after Round 1 with a staggering score of 62. Björn’s ten under par was also the lowest round in the Championship’s history, previously set by Robert Karlsson in 2010, however, due to changes in the course, Björn’s ten under par score was deemed the superior of Karlsson’s nine under par round of four years ago.
It was a bitter sweet day for Karlsson, who technically lost his record as he celebrated another landmark occasion in a remarkable career; his 500th European Tour event.
The majority of ‘big names’ made the cut after Thursday, including fan favourites McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Rose, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. However, it was Björn who continued to dominate proceedings in Round 3, setting a second Championship record after scoring six birdies in a row down the back nine. The Dane finished the day on 15 under par, with two-time BMW PGA Champion Donald his nearest rival at 10 under.
The final round on Sunday produced one of the closest finishes in years, as McIlroy endured an anxious wait with closest rivals Lowry and Donald yet to play the 18th. Lowry holed a monster putt to finish at 13 under; McIlroy was then confirmed as the 2014 Champion after Donald went into the water just short of the 18th.
Despite some poor weather, especially on the Saturday, total attendance at the 2014 BMW PGA Championship reached 82,143 with the breakdown over all four days as follows: 23,786 on Sunday (Round 4); 19,244 on Saturday (Round 3); 22,003 on Friday (Round 2); 17,130 on Thursday (Round 1). This compares with 88,776 in 2013.
BMW PGA Championship Director Jamie Birkmyre commented: “We are delighted with the success of the 2014 event, celebrating the 60th edition of the tournament and the tenth with BMW as title Partners.
“Rory McIlroy is a worthy Champion and it was a real fight to the finish with Shane Lowry, Luke Donald and Thomas Björn, which summed up the drama and excitement of the European Tour’s flagship event.
“It’s been a thrilling six days and I would like to thank all the players, volunteers, staff, partners, sponsors and spectators for making the BMW PGA Championship 2014 such an outstanding success.”
Tim Abbott, Managing Director of BMW UK, said: “On behalf of BMW, I would like to congratulate Rory McIlroy on winning the BMW PGA Championship 2014. It has been another fantastic tournament and the players have treated us to four exceptional days of golf, befitting the tournament’s 60th anniversary. This is also BMW’s tenth year as title partner of the PGA Championship and we are delighted to have announced a four year extension to that partnership, which will see us through to the end of the 2018 season.
“The event continues to go from strength to strength and is now firmly established as one of the most prestigious tournaments in international golf. As the world’s best-selling premium car manufacturer it is a natural fit for us to be paired with the European Tour’s flagship event, which further cements BMW’s strong global position in golf. I would like to congratulate The European Tour and Wentworth Club for organising such a magnificent tournament.”
Away from the course there was plenty to keep visitors and families entertained in the ChampionshipVillage. Throughout the week celebrities and professionals joined BBC presenter Andrew Cotter on the BMW Show Stage for ‘Cotter’s Questions’, including Rose, Olympic medallists Lizzy Yarnold and Eve Muirhead, and footballers Matt Le Tissier, Andriy Shevchenko and Harry Kane. Interactive displays and challenges also proved popular, including the HSBC Bunker Challenge and the Emirates Putting Challenge.
The Championship Village was also a hot spot for celebrity spotting with Gianfranco Zola, Brian Lara, Laura Robson, Andrew Strauss and Sir Bruce Forsyth enjoying the action and sunshine at glorious Wentworth.
The latest BMW models were also on show, ranging from the futuristic BMWi8 and BMW M4 convertible, making its first appearance in the UK, to BMW Classics including the Isetta and iconic 507, supporting the tournament’s 60th anniversary.
Speaking of the official charity of this year’s BMW PGA Championship, Jamie Birkmyre added: “Challengers is a local charity which provides play equipment for children with disabilities. Funds have been raised through a combination of programme sales, the 60th Anniversary Mega Putt Challenge, a limited edition Hugo Boss charity polo shirt, the auctioning of caricature artwork of the players and each Professional donating his appearance fee from Wednesday’s Celebrity Pro-Am, which in itself raised £30,000 on the day. The final fundraising figures for Challengers will be confirmed in the next few days.”
BMW golf activities www.bmw-golfsport.com