Eighteen months ago, the honour of being crowned the world’s number one golfer was up for grabs. Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald all had good stints in top spot. But as this year’s BMW Masters begins in Shanghai, it appears the dominance we became used to during the Tiger Woods reign has returned.
Rory McIlroy is unquestionably the big ticket this week. The local fans have turned out in force today, despite the rain that greeted the start of day one, and the vast majority are here to see the Northern Irishman. With his second major win, two Fed Ex Cup triumphs and a victorious Ryder Cup performance under his belt, all since the beginning of August, McIlroy’s star has risen considerably since his last appearance on UK soil.
In yesterday’s BMW Masters press conference, Luke Donald was asked about the impressive support enjoyed by McIlroy in Asia and whether the Englishman himself could hope to attract more local fans. His response was typically diplomatic, “I appreciate anyone supporting me. Rory, Tiger, they are a little different to the rest of us. They have that star quality and they garner a lot of fans because of it.”
Indeed, an important part of Mcilroy’s star quality is that he isn’t perfect. Not many players would have arrived five minutes before their tee time on Ryder Cup singles day. Even fewer would go on to win their match. That Rory McIlroy has established himself as the clear number one can be seen, both on and off the course, here more acutely than anywhere else. His ability to pull a crowd fascinated by his talent has created a fascinating atmosphere at the 2012 BMW Masters in Shanghai.