The European Tour is getting all European all of a sudden. After some brilliant tournaments in far flung corners of the globe, spring has sprung in Europe and with it comes the best players on the continent to some of the European Tour’s biggest tournaments. Rory McIlroy was an incredibly popular winner of the Irish Open last weekend and with a strong home showing there could be an equally popular winner of this week’s BMW PGA Championship.
The PGA Championship is like the European Tour’s version of the Players Championship. It is the flagship event on Tour and it is held at their headquarters. The Wentworth Club has been the home of the European Tour and of this event for many years now and previous tournament winners suggest that a deep understanding of the course is a huge bonus for those with realistic hopes of victory.
The West Course at Wentworth is hallowed ground for the European Tour but they are by no means overly protective of the course. Ernie Els has overseen some major changes to the par 72 layout to stop the biggest hitters from overpowering the place. It has been stretched to 7,302 yards but distance is not Wentworth’s real defence. The greens were all remodelled over a period of two years and a number of the bunkers were made particularly fearsome.
The last two winners of this event, Byeong-Hun An and Rory McIlroy showed that having a powerful game can be a bonus around the West Course but only if you are talented enough to control it. You have to carefully plan your way around this course as it is very tough to scramble for par if you miss the greens. There have been a number of winners over the past five years or so who could be described as plodders so more weight should be given to accuracy than distance.
Russell Knox looks to have the sort of game which should be well suited to Wentworth. The Scotsman is a native of Florida now and plays the majority of his golf on the PGA Tour but he makes sure to fulfil his quota of events on the European Tour to give himself a chance of making the Ryder Cup. With his form recently he cannot be written off for a place in Darren Clarke’s team this summer. He played brilliantly at the Players and the Irish Open and if his luck turns he could win at 16/1 with Coral.
With course experience a big factor here both Luke Donald and Lee Westwood could be able to rise to the top of this week’s field. Donald is desperate to rediscover that winning feeling after a few tough years and he showed at the RBC Heritage that he’s still a class act. The two-time winner looks a good bet at 28/1 with BetVictor. Westwood also proved he’s still top class when finishing joint runner up at the Masters. He was also very impressive at the K Club last week and if he can just get a few more putts to drop he’ll be right up there come Sunday at odds of 35/1 with Coral.
Also this week: Dean & DeLuca Invitational