22 May BMW PGA Championship preview
The European Tour heads to Wentworth this week for the circuit’s flagship event. Luke Donald defends the BMW PGA Championship against an impressive field. Donald will face stern opposition at Wentworth from the likes of: World Number 1 Rory McIlroy, former Number 1s Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, Major champions Charl Schwartzel, Graeme McDowell and Paul Lawrie as well as last week’s Volvo Match Play champion Nicolas Colsaerts. In fact, there are 15 former Major champions in the field as well as 29 men who have played in the Ryder Cup. It’s set to be a thrilling four days.
Since 1984 the PGA Championship has been hosted over Wentworth’s West Course, or “Burma Road” as it’s known. In that time there have been some notable winners including: Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie.
Last year’s tournament produced a thrilling duel between England’s two best golfers. Luke Donald and Lee Westwood needed extra holes to decide the outcome of the 2011 championship. It was Donald who came out on top and, in so doing, moved to Number 1 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
This year’s event could see another battle for the coveted World Number 1 slot featuring Donald. Both current Number 1 Rory McIlroy and Donald will tee it up at Wentworth this week. If Donald wins he’ll move back to the top of the pile. Depending on how McIlroy performs, Donald could finish eighth or better and still reclaim the Number 1 position.
Venue: Wentworth Club, Surrey, England
Date: May 24-27
Course stats: par 72, 7,302 yards
Purse: €4,500,000 Winner: €750,000
Defending Champion: Luke Donald (-6)
Thursday 24 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Friday 25 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 10.30am
Saturday 26 – Live on BBC 1 from 2.15pm
Sunday 27 – Live on BBC 2 from 2.30pm
The usual suspects – Donald, McIlroy and Westwood will surely contend this week, but who else might be in the frame at Wentworth?
Paul Lawrie – The Scot is in blistering form and should really have made the final at last week’s Volvo Match Play. He was sixth in this event two seasons ago and looks to be in complete control of his game.
Ernie Els – Has a close affinity with Wentworth, he lived on the estate for a number of years and was responsible for recent alterations to the West Course. He’s won the World Matchplay five times around this course.
Francesco Molinari – Few are better than the Italian from tee to green and he won on his last outing in the Spanish Open.
Key hole: 18th. A 539 yard par-5, it’s eminently reachable in two for most players in the field. But, a water hazard in front of the green makes going for the eagle risky. The green and surrounds have been altered over the last couple of seasons to make going for the surface in two blows a more appealing prospect. If someone is chasing on Sunday afternoon, they might just be tempted.
Skills required: Fast finishing. With two par-5s to close out the course, there’s potential for big swings at the death. The players will be looking to finish 4-4 and anything more than that will feel like an opportunity missed.