The BMW PGA Championship | Thursday 21 May - Sunday 24 May | Wentworth
The BMW PGA Championship tees off this week and things are finally looking up for the European Tour as a number of big names return to the continent for what promises to be an exciting four days of golf. This is the European Tour’s flagship event and one which is steeped in history so it comes as no surprise that most of the best players to come out of Europe, including Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer, have chosen to make the trip to the historic West Course at Wentworth Country Club.
The par 72, 7302 yard course promises to challenge even the most experienced campaigners and the tight, tree-lined fairways are some of the most challenging this field will encounter. That is not the end of difficulties though as the course plays long and so not only does one have to be accurate, but distance is going to be a vital statistic if birdies are to be made. Once on the greens things don’t get much easier. Every year spectators are left stunned when some of the best in the world seem to completely misread putts and the course has earned itself a reputation for having some of the most difficult greens around. Will Rory McIlroy successfully defend his title? Let’s have a look and see.
To Win Outright
Rory McIlroy 28/10
Justin Rose 10/1
Lee Westwood 25/1
Luke Donald 28/1
Francesco Molinari 28/1
Danny Willett (45/1 a win, 99/10 a place)
Danny Willett got his season off to a flying start at the end of last year when he won the Nedbank Golf Challenge and since then he has not looked back and has impressed almost every time he’s stepped onto the tee box. That finish came before he headed over to compete on the PGA Tour and while there was always a risk he would flounder in his first few months in the US, since his arrival he’s put in a few solid performances and has been rewarded with a handful of Top 5s. The most recent of these, and arguably the most impressive, was a third in the WGC Matchplay, so he’ll arrive in Surrey brimming with confidence and keen to perform in a tournament he will desperately want to win. Each way on Willet is my first bet this week.
Shane Lowry (33/1 a win, 73/10 a place)
There’s not all that much to say about Shane Lowry because if you look at his current form you’d write him off completely this week. However, I’m a firm believer in the ‘horses for courses’ theory and based on that Lowry has to be included this week. He came close to winning last year when he finished runner-up and in the three years preceding that he consistently finished near the top. I can’t ignore Lowry this week; you shouldn’t either.
Francesco Molinari (28/1 a win, 62/10 a place)
Francesco Molinari definitely hasn’t shot the lights out this season but last week in Spain he showed a side to his game that we haven’t seen in a while and that earned him a second-place finish against some stiff competition. Based on that performance and keeping his course form in mind, which has seen him finish inside the Top 10 in his last three starts here, he is difficult to ignore this week. The reason he always performs so well here is that he is the most accurate driver of the ball on the Tour and that is a stat that is going to be rewarded on these tight fairways. If he plays anything like he did last week he’ll be in contention come Sunday.
Luke Donald (28/1 a win, 62/10 a place)
Luke Donald has been struggling to find his feet this season and missed cuts in the Masters and more recently in the Players Championship suggest that he is one to be avoided when the competition is stiff. Having said that, he’s a bit of a Wentworth specialist and despite his current form, he cannot be ignored this week. He won here in 2011 and 2012 and almost won for a third time last year when he finished T3. He’s one of the best players around on his day, let’s hope he comes out firing.