The European Tour goes home to Wentworth in Surrey this week for one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year. Simon Khan defends the title in the BMW PGA Championship.
An extremely strong field has gathered to contest the European Tour’s flagship strokeplay event around the newly remodelled West Course at Wentworth. Six of the World’s top-10 will tee it up, as will 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and last week’s Volvo World Matchplay winner Ian Poulter.
Since 1984 the PGA Championship has been hosted over Wentworth’s West Course. In that time there have been some notable winners including: Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie. Last season, world number 471 Simon Khan was a surprise winner. The Englishman fired a fantastic final round of 66 to finish one clear of Luke Donald and Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden.
The West Course was remodelled dramatically for last year’s event and some further changes have been made for this season following feedback from the 2010 tournament.
Once again, the World Number 1 slot is up for grabs in the competition. Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer could all hold the position at the end of the week. The German needs to finish either first or second to have a chance, but Donald can take over via a number of different scenarios.
This year’s PGA Championship features 70 players from the top-200 in the World. As a result the tournament has a world rating of 470 – its highest ever.
Venue: Wentworth Club, Surrey, England
Date: May 26-29
Course stats: par 71, 7,261 yards
Purse: €4,500,000 Winner: €750,000
Defending Champion: Simon Khan (-6)
Thursday 26 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 10am
Friday 27 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 10am
Saturday 28 – Live on BBC 2 from 2.30pm
Sunday 29 – Live on BBC 2 from 2.30pm
The three men battling it out to be World Number 1 will surely be in the picture but who else might be in the frame at Wentworth?
Graeme McDowell – The Northern Irishman played three rounds at the Players Championship in Florida where he looked back to his best. He also played some great golf in last week’s Match Play.
Francesco Molinari – He’s only made six European Tour starts so far this year but he has already earned more than €500,000. He lost out in the quarter finals of the Match Play but his golf looked solid there. This course should suit his game.
Rory McIlroy – We keep waiting for the youngster to win again and this could be the week. He’s still playing supremely well from tee to green and, if he can just get the putter going, he’ll be right up there.
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 the aggressive play risky. The green and its surrounds have been softened slightly for this year’s tournament to make going for the surface in two blows a more appealing prospect.
Skills required: Finishing – With two par 5s to end the course, there’s always an opportunity to pick up shots late on. Even though the 18th has been toughened up in the last two years, there will be eagles made. However, with the water so close to the putting surface, there’ll also be some bogeys and doubles thrown in.