With the extra emphasis on power, some might feel that the relatively short-hitting LUKE DONALD would struggle, but his previous form suggests this won’t be the case. Such is the quality of Donald’s long iron play that he often challenges on very long courses. Consider his excellent record at Torrey Pines, for instance. Almost from the moment he turned pro, Donald struck me as an ideal Wentworth type and so it is proving. In four tries at this event, Luke has never finished outside the top-25 and registered 7th and 3rd placed finishes in the past couple of years.
Retief Goosen, who has shown many signs of resurgence lately, has often thrived in wet, soft conditions. However, the twice former US Open champion, who won in the States recently, has a mixed record around a course that may be slightly narrower than ideal. Three previous top-7 finishes here emphasise that he cannot be written off, but in comparison to other Euro Tour venues, his record here is probably below average. Nevertheless I prefer his chances to compatriot Ernie Els, who still looks way off his best. It would be a huge irony if Wentworth resident and course specialist Els were to finally win this event now, having gone close on numerous occasions when favourite over the past 15 years.
Lee Westwood has won a matchplay title here, but surprisingly hasn’t registered a top-10 since finishing second in this event nine years ago. Rory McIlroy, while remaining very much one to follow over the summer, is hard to back on the basis of last week’s efforts and missed the cut on his Wentworth debut anyway. Defending champion Miguel-Angel Jimenez is in nowhere near the same form this term, and similar comments apply to another of last year’s main protagonists, Order of Merit champion Robert Karlsson. And while Colin Montgomerie used to own this event, I just don’t think he hits it far enough to compete in wet conditions nowadays.
Wentworth certainly is a layout that takes some learning, so after a couple of reasonable efforts, emerging star MARTIN KAYMER may be ready for the first of many serious tilts at this championship. 30th in 2007 was followed 16th last year, and I’m expecting further improvement, especially given the extra emphasis on driving distance. Not surprisingly, Kaymer has taken time to come to terms with the US on his recent spell of PGA Tour starts, but it was extremely encouraging to see him on the fringes of contention throughout the recent Quail Hollow Championship. 11th place there was his best effort to date on that side of the Atlantic and back now amongst his European peers, who Kaymer has already shown do not intimidate him, a third title could be around the corner.