The 2017 BMW PGA Championship Preview

Finally, an event that the European Tour can be proud of. After weeks of trying to feign interest in Sicilian reinterpretations and GolfSixes, European tour aficionados will finally be treated to something approaching a fully-fledged event. The absence of Rory McIlroy due to injury and Sergio’s desire to play in America have dampened moods somewhat, but the likes of Rose and Stenson lead an impressive field at a newly renovated and jazzed up Wentworth. Harry Colt’s old course had become a parody of its former self in recent times, and the likes of Ernie Els and co have gone through significant pains to make the course the standard bearer that it used to be on tour.
Chris Wood’s victory last season was marred by calls for a complete course rejuvenation.

It seems as if the calls have been heeded, with various players applauding the efforts made this year. Many fairway bunkers have been filled in while those remaining have been made less punitive. The greens have new underground heating which should give them more zip and mimic the greens of Augusta. The usual tree-lined course will still offer the same perils from the tee-box, while one should expect a winning score of somewhere approaching the (-15) range.

Stenson and Rose clearly lead the betting markets, with the latter quite a convincing case with two runner-up finishes in his locker already. But there are a host of potential contenders this week, with the likes of Tyrrell Hatton and Bernd Wiesberger lurking in the background. It would obviously be remiss of me to not mention that this flagship European event will go ahead, very much in the background of the seismic events in Manchester this week. So expect a security presence unlike any that you have ever witnessed at any golfing event this week.

The BMW PGA Championship |  Thursday 25 May - 28 May 2017 | Wentworth Club (West Course), Surrey, England
Past Winners
2016: Chris Wood (-9) | 2015: Byeong-Hun An (-21) | 2014: Rory McIlroy (-14) | 2013: Matteo Manassero (-10)*playoff | 2012: Luke Donald (-15)

Betting Favorites
Henrik Stenson 10/1 | Justin Rose 10/1 | Francisco Molinari 18/1 | Alex Noren 20/1 | Byeong-Hun An 22/1

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Value Bets
Francisco Molinari - To Win 18/1 & To Place 2/1 *Six Places
Francisco Molinari is currently enjoying one of the best spells in his career, with some brilliant performances stateside underlining his chances here. After a T7th at Bay Hill, the pugnacious Italian finished solo sixth at the flagship Players Championship. But it’s his form at Wentworth that really speaks volumes.  He surely possesses one of the best records around the famed course without victory. He finished tied for seventh in 2012 and 2014, tied for sixth in 2013, and tied for fifth in 2015. His weakness has been his putting and it will need to be extra sharp as the Wentworth greens look to have more zip in them. But it’s his accuracy that makes him so formidable around this course. He actually ranks first on the PGA Tour for Driving Accuracy, with 72.52%.

Chris Wood - To Win 40/1 & To Place 8/1 *Six Places
I’m not normally one to back repeat performers. Usually, the price is too short, but 40/1 doesn’t look too bad. Firstly, Luke Donald, Colin Montgomerie and Sir Nick Faldo have all successfully defended this title. So Wood would certainly not be a first to repeat. Secondly, Wood’s success here last season was hardly a fluke. He was sixth on debut in 2010 before finishing fourth in 2015. Wood is now a senior European Tour Player and a Ryder Cupper, and he also finished fourth last time out at the China Open. 40/1 looks a fair price for the experienced Englishman.

Dylan Frittelli - To Win 60/1 & To Place 12/1 *Six Places
I can’t really believe how big Fratelli's price is, especially after the level of consistency that he has shown in recent months. His playoff defeat by Alex Levy at the Volvo China Open was just the culminating event in what has been a surge for the young man from Johannesburg. He also finished in a tie for fifth at the Shenzhen tournament and 29th at the Trophee Hassan II. He seems to be on the right trajectory and should benefit from a more amenable course this year.

The Man to Beat
Tommy Fleetwood- To Win 35/1 & To Place 7/1 *Six Places
Tommy Fleetwood has just gone from strength to strength and looks about ready to win an event of this calibre. He has already defeated a better field by claiming the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship before coming second behind Dustin Johnson at the WGC Mexico Championship. Considering the fact that the European Tour is considerably less competitive than the US, 35/1 looks quite favourable, especially considering his last outing on the European Tour resulted in a playoff defeat to Wiesberger at the Shenzhen Invitational. He also finished sixth at Wentworth in 2015, before playing very well at the British Masters last season. He seems to be emboldened on home soil and should be highly competitive this week.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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