Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: European Tour: BMW PGA Championship

European Tour: BMW PGA Championship

We take a look at this week's BMW Championship which takes place at Wentworth (West Course), Surrey, England.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

European Tour 2020
Rolex Series
BMW PGA Championship
Wentworth (West Course), Surrey, England
8th-11th October 

Aaron Rai’s playoff victory over Tommy Fleetwood in Scotland served as the perfect aperitif for this: the premier event on the European calendar. The flagship event of the European Tour has taken on a slightly different dimension in the year of Coronavirus. It’s quite depressing to see the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children Open drawing a significantly stronger field than this ‘elite’, Rolex Series event.  Originally known as the British PGA Championship and first staged in 1955, the BMW PGA Championship has been the flagship event on the European calendar since its inception in 1972.  Previously nailed down as a May fixture, adjustments had to be made last year to accommodate the US PGA Championship’s earlier slot. The 3rd of four Rolex Series events, this week’s field is still the strongest of the year thus far.  

The West Course at Wentworth is a classic Harry Colt design that opened as far back as 1926.  Affectionately known as the ‘Burma Road’, this course has undergone a swathe of alterations under the guidance of Ernie Els. The greens were all remodelled in 2009/2010, while the 18th underwent a radical transformation. What had turned into a certain birdie hole now had a risk/reward dimension (with the addition of a large stream guarding the green). In 2017 the old Poa Annua-Bermuda hybrid was changed to a faster Bentgrass compound. That will suit players preparing for a late-season Masters tilt.  This is a tight, tree-lined Heathland course that will reward precision iron-play. Recent winners such as Francesco Molinari and Chris Wood testify to the fact that distance doesn’t trump accuracy at Wentworth. Look for players who are able to find plenty of greens, be it from the rough or fairway.  

I was slightly disappointed to see that neither Rory McIlroy or Jon Rahm chose to make this journey.  They are really the current icons of European golf and would have added a bit of spectacle to proceedings.  As it is, we have to rely on the rejuvenated Tommy Fleetwood to lead the European charge. Fleetwood’s tee-to-green game was exceptional last week. He will surely be a contender this week if he gets his putter to behave. Patrick Reed makes the Trans-Atlantic trip this year with Race to Dubai points on hand. Matthew Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose and Tyrell Hatton make for an exciting English trio.  

Past Winners
2019: Danny Willett (-20)
2018: Francesco Molinari (-18)
2017: Alex Noren (-11)
2016: Chris Wood (-9)
2015: Byeong-Hun An (-21)

To Win Outright: 
Tommy Fleetwood (10/1)
Patrick Reed (10/1)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (18/1)
Justin Rose (18/1)
Tyrell Hatton (18/1)

Value Bets

Christiaan Bezuidenhout- To Win (50/1), To Place (11/1)
Amazingly, 14 of the last 15 winners here have already picked up a top 10 at the West Course.  Familiarity seems unusually important in predicting success here. That leads me to Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who with rounds of 68-67-69-68 finished in 3rd place last year. He ranked 1st in greens in regulation and 2nd for scrambling for the week. He’s had a fairly unproductive year on the US PGA Tour (though top 30 finishes at two WGC events and the US PGA Championship hint at his massive potential). But just look at his form on the European Tour over the past 18 months.  He won at Valderrama and lost a play-off at the Emirates. He has another pair of 2nds, two 3rds and a 4th. So, he is clearly playing at a level that he enjoys. 

Jordan Smith- To Win (66/1), To Place (14/1)
This is a course that rewards accurate approach play.  Jordan Smith is just the sort of man who could exploit that. He is currently ranked 1st on the European Tour for Greens in Regulation. He has shown signs of massive improvement recently, finishing 7th at the Irish Open a few weeks back. He also has decent course form, finishing in the top 25 in last year’s edition.  

The Man to Beat

Matt Wallace- To Win (30/1), To Place (13/2)
I’m really liking the look of Wallace’s game recently, despite the lack of tangible results.  I think he just needs to lower the intensity a bit at times. The four-time European Tour Winner needs to return to the feeling of enjoying his golf. Wentworth is a couple of miles from his Sunningdale home, meaning he will be perfectly comfortable with the golf course. Wallace drew the short-straw at the Scottish Open, playing in atrocious early morning conditions on Thursday.  He would eventually battle his way to a top 30 finish (helped by a closing 68). Wallace was left to act as cheerleader while his coach Robert Rock duffed it on the last. This could be the perfect venue for the Englishman to remind the world of what a talent he is.   

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets.

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