1. Seve Ballesteros’ sensational comeback against Colin Montgomerie (1991)
This match highlighted all of Seve’s skills. He was a tough player and was always determined to do well.
Seve had started off ok by making a birdie on the last to match Colin’s clubhouse lead of 271 and force a play-off. He then nearly undid all of his good work by hitting a shot into the rough, but miraculously came back with a five-iron that settled to within three feet of the hole. He beat Monty on the 19th (which they played at the first hole in those days).
Seve was always good at Wentworth and played the course very well. The thing that always amused me was that people thought Seve was a bad driver of the ball – they used to say he chipped and putted the ball around the course, but this isn’t true. Towards the end of his career, his form dipped slightly, but for the most part he was a brilliant driver.
You don’t drive badly and win five matchplays in a PGA Championship at Wentworth, because it’s a very demanding course. Wentworth always suited him and he was skilful enough to play it left to right and right to left. He almost single-handedly popularised the game in Europe and the strength of the European Tour today can, in some ways, be attributed to Seve.
2. Luke Donald vs Lee Westwood: The battle for number 1 spot (2011)
The fact that this game went to a sudden-death playoff at the end of 72 holes and was between two fantastic golfers made it all the more enthralling.
Luke Donald had a point to prove, having thrown away the Championship on the 17th in the previous year. At the time, he was World Number 2 and Lee Westwood was the World Number 1, so Luke would’ve been anxious to turn that around.
It went to a tie and a play-off and then Luke put pressure on Lee. The turning point was at the first playoff hole, when Westwood’s approach shot to the green spun back into the water hazard and Donald holed out for a birdie to win the title.
Luke became World Number 1 with the victory, so it was a really defining moment in his career. He was under pressure to win, but he stood up to the pressure perfectly. Luke had a fondness for Wentworth – he’d played there as an amateur and doesn’t live very far from the course, so he knows his way around it.
3. Matteo Manessero’s victory at just 20 years old (2013)
Matteo was something of a prodigy at the time, having won a European Tour at 17.
He won in a four hole play-off against Simon Khan, who played the course very well. It was a big victory and Matteo got a lot of money, especially for a 20-year-old. It set him up, it’s just a shame he hasn’t continued that kind of form.
I don’t know where he disappeared to after this – you’d think this victory would have been a springboard towards becoming a great player. He’s still got plenty of time to achieve this, of course. The story goes that he tried to change his swing to get more length on it, as a number of players have done – but it hasn’t worked out and has upset his technique.
4. Rory McIlroy finally wins at Wentworth (2014)
The background to this was very interesting – it was just after Rory had split up with Caroline Wozniacki. Everyone was surprised he came to Wentworth and performed so well in the midst of such an emotionally challenging situation.
Rory said that the golf course was the best place for him, because when you’re on the golf course it’s quite a lonely place. It’s very peaceful, which allows you to just switch off and relax, so it must have actually been a nice distraction for him.
He’d never played Wentworth very well, but he shot a 66 in the final round and he got back 7 strokes.
This was his first professional success in continental Europe and was the start of a special year for Rory. He puts his success in 2014 down to the victory at Wentworth – it really helped him build momentum for the tournaments that followed.
Wherever you play, you always want to win on your home circuit. It completes you as a golfer and winning the BMW PGA Championship on a tough course like Wentworth lays down a real marker.
5. Alex Noran’s win from 7 strokes behind (2017)
This was a memorable moment as Alex shot a magnificent course record of 62 in the final round. He just proved how good a golfer he is by hitting everything perfectly and holing every putt.
Wentworth has been toughened up over the years. It’s been modernised and lengthened. In my opinions, the greens are among the best in the world.
As such, most people didn’t think it was possible to get a 62, but Alex managed it. You can’t prepare for a score like that. He put on a great show and was a worthy winner.
The only slight shame was that Alex Noran was out so early that a lot of people missed his good score, because he was an hour and a half ahead of the last group. Nobody could catch his total.
He’s a fine player and I think he’ll put up a pretty good defence of his title this year.
Bernard’s predicted winner for the 2018 BMW PGA Championship: Justin Rose. He hasn’t won it before, but he’s come very close. Plus, he knows the course well and he’s back home with his family, so I think he’ll be in a good place psychologically. For these reasons, I fancy him to win.