The BMW PGA Championship has been the European Tour’s flagship event for many years now, and its long-term association with the brilliant Wentworth Golf Course means it continues to attract large crowds and a generous sponsor. However, crowds also have an excellent added-incentive to attend at the weekend this year with the addition of post-golf live music courtesy of Status Quo (Saturday) and the Kaiser Chiefs (Sunday). Meanwhile, the players also have an extra-incentive as this is the first-leg of the European Tour’s new initiative the Rolex Series.
Despite all that, the European Tour will be disappointed by the fact they have once again failed to attract Rory McIlroy, and the market this week is headed by Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose. Both will no doubt attract a big following, but Open Champion Stenson only has two top-10s to his name here, whilst dual runner-up Justin Rose hasn’t been a factor on his last 3 visits, finishing 50/25/38.
The course has again undergone alterations this year, with the bunkering expected to be more penal, whilst the sub-air system that has been installed under the greens has been done so in the hope that it will produce faster and truer greens, no matter what the weather.
Wentworth has traditionally been a horses-for-courses kind of course though and, though there have been several shock winners over the years, there has also been many dual winners, or champions that have previously showed they can handle the tight tree-lined layout when their game is on song.
Therefore, I’m happy to stick to players who have already shown a liking for the course this week, starting with 2015 Champion An Byeong Hun, who has been in terrific form on the PGA Tour in recent weeks with two top-8 finishes. He won here on debut, and showed up well for a long way last year until the pressure of defending his title got to him. He has no such worries this year, and looks likely to go well.
Another player who has been playing well on the PGA Tour recently who has shown plenty of form here is Francesco Molinari, and the Italian boasts four top-9 finishes in his last five visits. He admittedly has a frustrating habit of not converting great chances, but there may not be any superstars in contention come Sunday.
The third and final pick this week is Shane Lowry who, though not in the best of form States-side, should be filled with motivation for an event he loves. He’s posted three top-6 finishes in 6 attempts here, and 50/1 is insulting for a player who won a WGC Event not long ago.
An Byeong Hun 2 Points Each-Way @ 25/1 (Ladbrokes) ¼ odds 5 places
Francesco Molinari 2 Points Each-Way @ 18/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 6 places
Shane Lowry 1 Point Each-Way @ 50/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 6 places