The European Tour heads home to Wentworth this week for the circuit’s flagship event. England’s Chris Wood defends the BMW PGA Championship.
This week sees the 63rd edition of the PGA Championship and it has attracted a stellar field. Although Rory McIlroy has been forced to withdraw with an nagging rib injury, 10 of the World’s top-30 players will start. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson are on the start sheet so too are Branden Grace, Thomas Pieters and defending champion Chris Wood.
This event will be the first of the inaugural Rolex Series. Each of the eight tournaments in the series will offer a minimum prize fund of $7 million and that is what’s up for grabs this week.
It will be the 37th time the PGA Championship has been hosted over the West Course at Wentworth and the 34th year in succession – dating back to 1984. In that time winners over “Burma Road” have included Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie.
Last year, Chris Wood became the 22nd English winner of this prestigious event. The Bristolian went into the final day three shots off the lead but raced to the turn in just 29 shots to put himself in position to win. He held on, despite dropping three shots on the run in, and won by a stroke from Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg.
The West Course at Wentworth has been further revamped this year with changes following advice from Thomas Bjorn and Paul McGinley. All the greens have been reseeded and the 8th, 11th, 14th and 16th greens completely reshaped.
All of the bunkers have been redesigned and rebuilt, 29 of them have been removed. The objective of the alterations has been to reinstate the playing characteristics Harry Colt envisaged when he originally laid out the course.
The weather looks set to be warm and dry through the tournament.
Venue: Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey
Date: May 25-28
Course stats: par 73, 7,281 yards
Defending Champion: Chris Wood (-9)
Thursday 25 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am
Friday 26 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am
Saturday 27 – Sky Sports 4 from 12pm
Sunday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 12pm
Thomas Pieters – The young Belgian has been playing well this season with top five finishes in the WGC Mexico Championship and The Masters. Although he hasn’t ever showed his best at Wentworth, he should have the all-round game and the power to contend here.
Thomas Pieters driving tips video:
Tyrrell Hatton – Grew up just 30 minutes from Wentworth, he’s enjoyed a climb up the World Rankings in recent months. He was tied seventh in this event last year.
Alex Noren – Looking for a victory to ignite the spark he enjoyed last year, a season in which he claimed four victories. He’s twice finished in the top-10 at Wentworth.
Key hole: 18th. A 521 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 going for the eagle risky. If someone is chasing on Sunday afternoon, they might be tempted.
Skills required: Fast finishing. With two par-5s to close out the course, there’s potential for big swings at the death. The players will be looking to finish 4-4 and anything more than that will feel like an opportunity missed. Last year the 17th and 18th ranked as sixth and fourth easiest holes through the week.