An excellent field is lining up for this week’s PGA Championship, Britain’s second biggest golf tournament after the Open Championship. Rory McIlroy heads the field and the 2019 FedEx Cup winner is supported by the cream of Europe with John Rahm, Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, and Tommy Fleetwood the next five players in the betting.
It’s no surprise so many of Europe’s elite are in attendance, as this year’s BMW Championship kicks-off the qualifying for Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup team. It’s also a Rolex Series event in which players can pick up plenty of prize money and points in the build-up to the DP World Tour Championship in November.
The BMW Championship takes place on the West Course at Wentworth, which is a Par 72 measuring close to 7,300 yards. It was designed by Harry Colt in 1926 but has more recently been tweaked by Ernie Els in 2009 and 2016.
Wentworth is a truly great test of golf that tests the full skillset. Winners tended to have played excellently tee-to-green but also been amongst the best chippers and putters on the week.
The PGA Tour raiding party adds an extra layer of interest to this week’s BMW Championship. Arnold Palmer remains the only American to win it, but Patrick Reed, Bill Horschel, and Viktor Hovland all make their tournament debuts. Tony Finau is also present, whilst PGA Tour regular John Rahm makes his first appearance.
But Wentworth isn’t a course that’s easy to win at on debut, and this week’s BMW PGA Championship free tips are concentrated on players that have shown good course form in the past. The cream of Europe also has the extra motivation of knowing that a win here will go a long way to securing a Ryder Cup spot for next year.
BMW PGA Championship 2019 Analysis
Rory McIlroy is a certainty to be in the Ryder Cup next year, due to his world ranking, but that could mean he has less pressure on his shoulders rather than subtracting form his motivation. He’s a short price at 11/2, but can you afford to leave him out of the equation with some bookies offering 8 places on each-way bets. McIlroy did take a few goes to get used to the place but he won here in 2014 and was second last year. He’s been in even better form this year and he has the look of an each-way bet to nothing.
Paul Casey is also a past winner here but perhaps is more questionable under pressure, whilst two-time Wentworth runner-up Justin Rose hasn’t been at his best for quite a while. Henrik Stenson has finished top-7 on his last two visits but this infrequent visitor to Wentworth probably isn’t quite as good as he was a few years ago. Another player it’s hard to make a case for is Tommy Fleetwood, who despite posting a sixth-place finish in the past, has never looked completely at home here.
That means the second of our BMW PGA Championship free tips is Shane Lowry. The Irishman may just have stopped partying after winning this year’s Open Championship, but I think away from the limelight he’ll have been aiming to peak his game for this week. He simply loves the layout, which rewards his excellent long game, whilst he also has the short game wizardry needed to excel. He’s posted four top-6 finishes already in the event and can, hopefully, at last hit the frame.
The same kind of comments apply to Francesco Molinari, as the Italian has done little this year after having the time of his life last year. The euphoria that followed his Open Championship win and his perfect Ryder Cup winning performance has died down and he’s another that will have been working hard to get ready for this week. He finished runner-up in 2017 and won in 2018, so again looks overpriced.
Our final two BMW Championship free tips are Matt Fitzpatrick and Matt Wallace, two young Englishmen who just missed out on the 2018 Ryder Cup. They won’t want to miss out this time and both look to have been trying to peak their games for this tournament in recent weeks.