Three winners in five weeks….that would have been nice. Our 30/1 pick Russell Knox led the field at the Irish Open with three to play, but that man Rory McIlroy engaged warp speed to take the crown and subject Knox to the runner’s up spot. An each way return is better than nothing, of course.
This week we’re off to a huge European Tour event, the BMW PGA Championship, held at the picturesque Wentworth club. This is the flagship event on the tour, with the continent’s finest doing battle on one of the UK’s most iconic courses.
Members of the Asian and Sunshine Tours are here, hence how defending champion Byeong-Hun An lifted the trophy last year, and with a small handful of Americans there is a truly pan-global feel to proceedings.
Who’s in the Field?
Alongside An many of the great and good of the European game are here. Danny Willett takes up favouritism at 12/1, and the Masters champion will need to improve upon his Irish weekend when he tumbled from leader to 23rd in the space of 48 hours.
Shane Lowry (16/1) has a great record at Wentworth but struggled in patches on home soil last week, while Knox himself is in the field but this will be his first look at the course so anything could happen.
Add in a few Ryder Cup legends (Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald), a number of proven winners (Soren Kjeldsen and Andy Sullivan), a handful of grizzled Asian Tour heroes (An and Thongchai Jaidee) and some fast improving young talents (Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrell Hatton), and you have an intriguing contest on your hands.
How Does Wentworth Play?
This is a typically English golf course; it looks great, offers a stern test of credentials and – weather permitting – should offer up some fantastic final day action on Sunday.
Wentworth is expertly tree-lined, so often good-looking tee shots can lead to trouble; meaning arrow-like precision off the peg is essential. There will be wind around (this is the English summer after all), so an ability to hit greens at will and scramble will be essential.
It’s a tricky place to make predictions about who will go well. An drove the ball further than anybody else last year, and yet this was the first time in about eight years that any winner had been exceptionally long off the tee. So perhaps we’ll look for power-play but with a touch of finesse, too.
Putting is crucial in English conditions; greens often tend to play slow with rain around, and in big events like this form with the short stick can be the most important factor.
Our Betting Tips
Martin Kaymer (22/1)
Any two-time major winner is worthy of attention in an event like this, and when you consider that Martin Kaymer’s wins in the PGA Championship and US Open came just two years ago – and he appears to be returning to form – then now is as good a time as any to invest in the German.
Two top-10s in his last four starts have caught the eye, particularly the way he slayed the K Club course at times last week on his way to fifth. He ranked comfortably inside the top-20 of that event for both driving stats (accuracy and distance) plus greens in regulation, and so the chances are that if he putts well he will go close again given that McIlroy isn’t here.
There’s some form at Wentworth to call upon too, with five consecutive cuts made and three top-20s to his name. But with his form picking up exponentially in the past month or so, we can expect Kaymer to go better than that this time.
Francesco Molinari (20/1)
He plays the majority of his golf in the United States these days, so you know when Molinari returns to European shores he means business.
That is certainly the case here – as his run of form at Wentworth reads 7-9-7-5 – and few can offer such credentials here as the Italian. But can he win it?
He’s a three-time European Tour winner with a fourth to his name last time out in a sanctioned event in Dubai. And he comes here on the back of two top-20 returns in America: seventh at the Players Championship (another event he loves) and 17th at the Wells Fargo event. Factor in another top-ten at the tail-end of March and there is plenty of good vibes surrounding the Italian at the moment.
James Morrison (80/1)
When making your selections it is always worth looking out for a local flavour, and as a guy who grew up nearby and still lives in the vicinity of Wentworth, James Morrison is a smart pick.
He’s got a pair of top-ten finishes to his name here already, finished in the money places in Valderrama a month or so ago and recorded a top-10 return at the Irish Open. Everything appears in place for Morrison to challenge for his third European Tour title.