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BMW PGA Championship 2016 Preview
Our golf scribe takes a hard look at this week's European Tour event the BMW PGA Championship.
Wentworth’s West Course once again plays host to the BMW PGA Championship as a fairly B-Grade field descends on the Ernie Els redesigned course.
The tournament preparations have been plagued more by who isn’t here, than by who is. Rory McIlroy has decided to give this one a miss, along with Henrik Stenson and a host of big-name South African players. What’s left is a fairly underwhelming event, which in a way is a perfect reflection of the tour as a whole.
Masters champion Danny Willett is undoubtedly the draw card here and has understandably been priced up as favourite. Russell Knox and Shane Lowry are expected to challenge, while Martin Kaymer will look to continue his quest for a place on the Ryder Cup team with another strong showing.
As for the course itself, Wentworth is a tight, fairly flat, tree-lined heathland course with tricky-to-read greens. It’s not very well liked by a number of pros, hence the poor turnout this week. Not even Els, who designed the bloody thing, could be bothered to show up.
BMW PGA Championship | Thursday 26 May - Sunday 29 May | Wentworth West Course
2015 Byeong-Hun An -21 | 2014 Rory McIlroy -14 | 2013 Matteo Manassero -10 (Playoff) | 2012 Luke Donald -15 | 2011 - Luke Donald -6 (Playoff)
Danny Willet 12/1 | Shane Lowry 16/1 | Francesco Molinari 18/1 | Russell Knox 18/1 | Martin Kaymer 22/1 | Byeong-Hun An 25/1
Jamie Lovemark (55/1 Win & 12/1 Place)
After picking out Lovemark as a potential winner in the States this week, it was rather surprising to see the American in the field here. Even more surprising are his odds of 55/1. He is a big talent and almost broke his duck on the PGA Tour in New Orleans at the start of the month and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to this completely different type of test. If he takes a liking to it, he has the game to be in the thick of things come Sunday.
Thomas Aiken (110/1 Win & 24/1 Place)
What is a week of golf punting without throwing in a Saffa for good measure? Another who has been trying his luck over on the PGA Tour, Aiken returns to the tour where he made his name as a more rounded player. He ranks first for driving accuracy, fourth for ball striking and eighth for GIR over in the States. Those are some great stats. Throw in two top 10 finishes here and he’s starting to look like great value at 110/1. If he can get his putter running hot, we’ll be in line for a huge payout.
Miguel Angel Jimenez (100/1 Win & 22/1 Place)
Show me a man that doesn’t love Miguel Angel Jimenez and I’ll show you a liar. The cigar smoking, red wine drinking Spaniard is one of the greatest characters to play the game. And he’s not too bad at it either. He’s currently the oldest winner on tour, but who’s to say he can’t break his own record this week? He clearly loves the course having finished T4 in 2013 and T2 last year. Throw in his victory back in ‘08 and there’s no reason not to have a punt on him. Just imagine the celebrations if he wins. I’ve got the cigar at the ready.
Luke Donald (25/1 Win & 11/2 Place)
Donald may not be the player he once was, but he deserves a bit of respect at a venue he clearly enjoys. In a dozen appearances here, he’s placed five times and won twice – going back-to-back in 2011 & 2012. His form on the PGA Tour this year hasn’t been spectacular, but a T2 behind Branden Grace at Hilton Head last month has me thinking he can challenge here. In a fairly mediocre field, his pedigree should shine through and 25/1 for a two-time winner certainly has some value about it.