This week the European Tour is in England for the circuit’s flagship event. Rory McIlroy is defending champion at the BMW PGA Championship, to be contested over Wentworth’s iconic West Course. This is the 61st edition of the PGA Championship and it has attracted a stellar field. Defending champion Rory McIlroy will tee it up, so too will Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.
McIlroy favourite at BMW PGA Championship
After his victory in the WGC – Cadillac Match Play, McIlroy will start the week as strong favourite. But there are a number of form players who will be hopeful of denying the 26-year-old a second BMW PGA Championship title. Recent Tour winners Richie Ramsay, George Coetzee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat will be looking to maintain their good form, while English youngsters Danny Willett and Tommy Fleetwood will be worth watching.
There are also a couple of talented American players in the field this week, and both could easily walk away with the title. Brooks Koepka – winner of last year’s Turkish Airlines Open and the Phoenix Open earlier this year, and Patrick Reed – four-times a PGA Tour winner and a member of the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
BMW PGA Championship – the facts
- This is one of the richest tournaments on the European Tour schedule with a total of €5 million up for grabs. The winner will walk away with a cheque for some €800,000.
- The tournament began life back in 1955 and has been part of the European Tour since the circuit’s inception in 1972.
- Since 1984 the PGA Championship has been hosted over Wentworth’s West Course, or “Burma Road” as it’s known. In that time there have been some notable winners, including: Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie.
- Last year Rory McIlroy came out on top. He was seven shots behind Thomas Bjorn after three rounds, but he produced a superb 66 on the final day and, with Bjorn fading to a 75, Rory won by a shot. In the end it was Ireland’s Shane Lowry that pushed McIlroy closest. He finished runner-up, and Bjorn ended the week back in a tie for third with Luke Donald.
- The victory provided a springboard for a magnificent summer for McIlroy. He went on to win The Open, the USPGA Championship and to firmly establish himself as the World’s Number 1 golfer.
BMW PGA Championship – The course
The West Course at Wentworth was originally designed by renowned architect Harry Colt, but Ernie Els has overseen significant changes to the layout in the last 10 years. It’s a fabulous, and highly demanding course that requires the players to display a blend of power and accuracy.
It’s a par-72, measuring 7,302 yards. The layout is famous for having two par-5s to finish, allowing for big changes on the leaderboard right at the death. The 17th is a 610-yard brute, turning from right to left with everything falling away to the right side from the tee. The home hole measures 539 yards and is 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. The green and surrounds have been altered in recent seasons to make going for the surface in two blows a more appealing prospect. If someone is chasing on Sunday afternoon, they might just be tempted.
Going along to the BMW PGA Championship
This event provides a rare opportunity for British golf fans to see the best players in the game live in action. Tickets for the Practice Day on Tuesday, May 19, the Celebrity Pro-Am on Wednesday May 20 and all four days of the Championship from May 21-24 will be available on the gate. Children under the age of 16 are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult ticket holder.
For ticket price information go to www.europeantour.com.
If you’re travelling to the event, going by train is a great option. Virginia Water station is just a five-minute bus trip from the course and a shuttle service will run on a loop all day.