The 2010 European Tour makes its sole visit to England this week for the BMW PGA Championship. Paul Casey defends his title against a high-class field around Wentworth’s revamped West Course.
Since 1984 the European Tour’s flagship event 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 year Paul Casey held off a memorable charge from Ross Fisher to take his first PGA Championship title.
For this season’s event, a new-look West Course will be in play for the first time in professional competition. Ernie Els‘ design team has completed an ambitious renovation project that included the upgrading of all 18 greens, an extension to the water feature in front of the 8th green and the addition of a water hazard or “brook” in front of the 18th green.
“My personal view is that the changes we’ve made have enhanced this wonderful golf course in every conceivable way,” said Els. “Aesthetically, strategically and perhaps most significantly in the quality of the playing surfaces, especially the greens, which will perform and putt as well as anything you’ll see on The European Tour.”
Early reactions from Els’ fellow pros have been good. “I’m very impressed with the changes that have been made,” said three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington. “I’m happy to see the way the greens are now putting.”
As ever, an extremely strong field will assemble at Wentworth. Five of the top-10 players in the world are on the start sheet – Westwood, Poulter, Casey, Els and McIlroy.
Venue: Wentworth Club, Surrey
Date: May 20-23
Course stats: par 71, 7,261 yards
Purse: €4,500,000 Winner: €750,000
Defending Champion: Paul Casey (-17)
Thursday 20 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10am
Friday 21 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10am
Saturday 22 – Live on the BBC from 2.15pm
Sunday 23 – Live on the BBC from 2pm
Ernie Els – The man responsible for the course re-design knows the layout better than anyone in the field. He’s also playing some fantastic golf at the moment. He heads the money list on the PGA Tour, is third in the Race to Dubai and has climbed back to sixth on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Lee Westwood – The Englishman has reached a career-high of third on the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s never won this event and would love to add it to his CV.
Rory McIlroy – We’ve come to expect the young Northern Irishman to produce something spectacular every time he tees it up. If he can get his putting going, he’ll be right up there on Sunday evening.
Key hole: 18th. At 539 yards the final par-5 is eminently reachable, but a new 100-yard long brook snaking past the left then front of the putting surface will force many to consider a lay-up. The new water hazard is sure to create drama as there’ll be the chance of a significant swing right to the death.
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 significantly toughened up, 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.