Westwood To Woo Wentworth Crowd At BMW PGA
A world class field takes to the Wentworth course Thursday morning looking to win one of the most lucrative prizes of the year. I preview the BMW PGA Championship and look to pick out the best value on offer.
Founded in 1955, this is the flagship event of the European Tour, although with the advent of the Race to Dubai it is no longer the most lucrative. It is also the Tour’s designated Premier Event for the purposes of the Official Golf Rankings, with 64 rankings points at stake, so usually attracts a strong field. Only one non-European has won this tournament in the last twenty years.
This event is always played on the West Course at Wentworth, the home of the European Tour. It’s a tight, tree-lined venue, which demands accuracy off the tee rather than distance, although length isn’t completely irrelevant, particularly in wet weather, when the course plays longer. The tricky, undulating greens are another feature of Wentworth and it takes experience to fully master them.
In The Bunker
Rory McIlroy returns to action at Wentworth and has once again been installed as antepost favourite. After several months of starting at single-figure odds, he is more reasonably priced this week, but I still won’t be backing him at 12/1. He’s shown glimpses of his best form recently, but he’s also thrown in at least one bad round in each of his last three outings and that inconsistency makes him a risky proposition at relatively short odds. He doesn’t have a great record in this event, missing the cut three times in six attempts, and I don’t think he’ll win this week.
Lee Westwood made a slow start to season, but has found form in the last month, making the top ten at the Masters, winning the Malaysian Open in the following week and securing another top ten at the Players Championship earlier this month. He’s on offer at the same price as McIlroy but has been playing the more consistent golf of the two, and has scored three top tens in his last four visits to Wentworth. Back him at 12/1.
Westwood’s countryman Luke Donald has also been playing some solid golf of late. He has managed three top tens on the PGA Tour since the beginning of March, including yet another second at the RBC Heritage, and his record in this event is impeccable. He’s finished in the top three at Wentworth on four occasions since 2008, including victories in 2011 and 2012. At 14/1 he is a solid bet this week.
The final name to add to your shortlist is Francesco Molinari. Although he disappointed at the Open de Espana last time, his form in recent weeks has been good, and has included top fives in the China Open and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, followed by a sixth at the Players Championship. His last two visits to Wentworth have produced consecutive top ten finishes and at 25/1 he’s a lively outsider.