Big guns gathering for Wentworth showdown

After forays into South Africa, the Middle East, China, India, America, Mauritius and continental Europe, The European Tour returns home this week for the 61st edition of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.There is always a palpable sense of nervous anticipation as the athletes fidget on their blocks in the leafy south of England, ready for the sound of the starting pistol denoting the launch of the professional season on mainland UK.This year is no exception, with many of the biggest names in the game preparing to contest a record €5 million prize fund and the right to be acclaimed as BMW PGA champion 2015. The field exudes class and quality, from defending champion and global ‘poster boy’ Rory McIlroy, to rising American star Brooks Koepka, who cut his professional teeth on the Challenge and European Tours.

The West Course awaits, in total, nine Major Champions who have accrued no fewer than 18 Majors between them. Memories of that spectacular Ryder Cup at Gleneagles should come flooding back at the sight of the aforementioned McIlroy and Reed being joined in competition by Thomas Bjørn, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher.McIlroy, Rose, Kaymer and McDowell can all lay claim to the US Open title between 2010 and 2014. Paul Lawrie, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke preceded McIlroy as proud holders of the Claret Jug; Ernie Els has four Major titles to his name and Y E Yang one.No longer are the European contingent comrades in arms. This time around they are sworn adversaries, consumed with a desire to lift the Tour’s flagship trophy, in a similar swashbuckling style to McIlroy 12 months ago, when he came from seven shots back after 54 holes to win his first BMW PGA Championship.

Luke Donald, a back–to-back winner of the title in 2011 and 2012, returns in search of a third BMW PGA Championship, while long-time Wentworth exponents, Els and Westwood, will be chasing that elusive first win.Two Ryder Cup captains are in attendance – Paul McGinley, who marshalled his troops with a brilliant strategist’s mind at Gleneagles – and 2011 Open Champion Clarke, who picks up the baton to take to Hazeltine National in 20 months’ time.Champions of the West Course abound. McIlroy and Donald are joined in that elite band of brothers by Matteo Manassero, Simon Khan, Miguel Angel Jiménez, David Howell, Anders Hansen, Scott Drummond and Ignacio Garrido.

Tickets for the Practice Day on Tuesday, May 19, the Celebrity Pro-Am on Wednesday May 20 and all four days of the Championship from May 21-24 will now only be available on the gate. Children under the age of 16 are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult ticket holder.