The European Tour’s flagship event has been played at Wentworth since 1972, during which time the tournament has crowned a plethora of world-class champions including Tony Jacklin (2), Peter Oosterhuis, Arnold Palmer, Nick Faldo (4), Seve Ballesteros (2), Bernard Langer (3), Ian Woosnam (2), Colin Montgomerie (3), Angel Cabrera and Luke Donald (2).
Equally, unheralded players like Andrew Oldcorn and Scott Drummond have enjoyed a surprise day in the limelight.
Most of Europe’s top-players are gracing the tournament with their presence this year including favourites Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson and, whilst it’s easy to imagine any of them lifting the trophy on their best form, they do have very varying Wentworth records.
McIlroy’s record of MC/5/48/24/MC/MC is particularly lacklustre, whilst Stenson boasts only one top-10 finish in 8 attempts, and Garcia’s 19th place finish last year was the first time he’d bothered to turn up in the last decade. Kaymer has fared little better with just three top-20s in seven attempts, whilst Westwood has at least managed to hit three top-10s in the last four years, including a runner-up spot. That leaves us with Justin Rose, who boasts two runner-up spots and a 10th-place in his last six visits, and double champion Luke Donald who has also posted a 2nd, a 3rd and a 7th place finish. Both of them are trading around 14/1 and, though perhaps not playing at their absolute best, definitely have each-way chances at least. Of the two – I just prefer Rose.
Outside the favourites, there are several players whose names repeatedly appear on the Wentworth leaderboard including last week’s Spanish Open winner Miguel Angel Jimenez who has posted four top-5s here in the last seven years, whilst Ernie Els, who would dearly love to win this tournament, has finished 6th and 7th the last two years. Less familiar names include Simon Khan who boasts two runner-up spots and a win since 2006, and Anders Hansen who won in 2002 and 2007. Of that quartet, Hansen has notably played well on his last two European Tour starts (2nd and 8th), and may be the pick over the very in-form Jimenez who is likely to have been celebrating in some style after winning his national event for the first-time at the age of 50.
Last year’s champion Matteo Mannaserro has to head the young guns section, but has played indifferently since, especially since swapping club manufacturers, and he also has the pressure of being defending champion. Meanwhile, last year’s tied-6th Eddie Pepperell showed some form last week for the first time this year, but folded tamely, whilst last year’s tied 4th Alejandro Canizares started slowly last-week but shot one of the best weekend totals to tie for 7th – and may be the pick of the trio here.
Justin Rose each-way 16/1 or better
Anders Hansen each-way 50/1 or better
Alejandro Canizares each-way 66/1 or better
Golf – PGA Tour – Crowne Plaza International Thursday – Sunday
Two players stand out in America this week, Zach Johnson and Boo Weekly, and each-way bets on both of them looks the way forward. Take a look at Johnson’s five-year form figures for the event of 9/1/4/1/3 and the case for backing him is an obvious one. Admittedly his recent form hasn’t been anywhere near as good as earlier in the season, but he does have a remarkable record of playing well in his favourite events.
The case for Weekly isn’t as obvious as he’s won only three events, last year’s renewal and the Heritage in successive seasons. He’s put up in the hope that the ‘defending a title’ lightning strikes twice, and his 5th last week signalled a return to form which, whilst definitely shortening his price for this week, has increased the hope for a crazy statistic I’ve had my eye on all year.
Zach Johnson each-way 14/1 or better
Boo Weekly each-way 50/1 or better
Horse racing – Newton Abbot – Wednesday – 3.10pm
A class-3 hurdle race may be a far cry from the closely scrutinized Derby trials of the last two weeks, but at least there’s plenty of form to study. Dan Breen may not have won for 39 months, but has won off a mark 20lb higher than his current one, usually races in a much higher grade, and has won twice at the course – be them only NH Flat races.
Dan Breen each-way 5/1 or better