Top quality golf returns to the European Tour this week with the tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship. The tournament is held, as ever, at Wentworth but significant changes have been made to the club’s West Course and this is the first event of the European Tour’s new Rolex Series. With a huge amount of money and prestige to play for, many of European golf’s best players are in attendance for what is always one of the best weeks of the year for European golf.
The West Course at Wentworth is hallowed ground as far as the European Tour golf so the changes that began just over a week after Chris Wood won last year had to be very carefully considered. Ernie Els has overseen many changes to the original Harry Colt design over the years and he was heavily involved alongside the European Tour, Thomas Bjorn, Paul McGinley and David Jones. The result is a course with 18 brand new greens, a more challenging set of bunkers and many minor tweaks to make the West Course as well-rounded a test as Colt originally designed.
The changes have gone down very well initially with those players who turned up early to get a feel for the place. It should be said that the overall feel of the course and the test it provides has not changed. The par 72 is a course at which you must find greens in regulation. Long hitters like Rory McIlroy and shorter hitters like Luke Donald and Matteo Manassero have won in the last five years while the stats show it is possible to win despite putting poorly providing your approach play is top class.
Rested Wood Ready to Go Again
We’ve not seen too much of defending champion Wood this season. The 29-year-old reduced his playing schedule over the spring so he could spend time at home with his wife and new born baby but he’s ready to fire again in the summer. Wood has said before that he’s unlikely to try and forge a career out in America on the PGA Tour which makes these massive European Tour events all the more important for him.
In terms of his game, Wood is a great fit for Wentworth. He’s tactically astute in terms of course management, is a wonderful ball striker and putts very well when he gets it going on the greens. The defending champion will need his best stuff but looks very well priced at 35/1 with Betfred.
Kaymer Primed to Push On
Martin Kaymer is traditionally a rather streaky player. At his best, Kaymer has risen to the very top of the game with dominant performances at major championships but when he’s off, the German struggles to keep his ball in play at times.
Thankfully for German golf fans, Kaymer is playing well at the moment. He tailed off at the Players Championship a fortnight ago but he’s not missed a cut in well over a year and Wentworth is a venue that has served him well over the years. Kaymer’s never won at the Surrey course but he’s had four finishes of 15 or higher and looks primed to kick on and challenge the leaders this week at 33/1 with Coral.