BMW PGA Championship Preview & Tips8 min read
One of the strongest European Tour fields of the year will compete this week at Wentworth in the BMW PGA Championship. The switch to September for this event has helped attract a host of world-class players to Surrey with Rory McIlroy rightfully favourite. Jon Rahm makes his course debut while recent winner Paul Casey and Justin Rose follow in the betting.
McIlroy lost a play-off in Switzerland in his last start and the FedEx Cup champion will be hard to keep out of the frame, although his record at the tree-lined track is hit and miss.
Power is not a big advantage at the demanding 7,284 yard par 72. Accuracy is more significant and hitting plenty of greens in regulation will be crucial to setting up birdies. A favourable forecast should provide ideal scoring opportunities for the field.
Molinari can defend Wentworth title
Francesco Molinari held off the challenge of McIlroy last season and the defending champion has a great opportunity to win back-to-back titles. Molinari has an outstanding record at Wentworth and is exceptionally comfortable at the Surrey course. The Italian was in a class of his own last year as he peppered flags all week. In addition to the win, Molinari was also runner-up two years ago, fifth in 2015 and seventh in 2014 and 2012.
Molinari enjoyed an incredible 2018 which was topped with his Open Championship triumph. This season was always likely to prove difficult to follow up, although the 36-year-old won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and led the Masters going into the final round before finishing fifth. His most recent start on the European Tour saw him finish 11th in his Open title defence and Molinari will be fully focused on finishing the year strongly. Well-rested after an early end to his PGA Tour campaign, Molinari can put up a bold title defence at 25/1 during one of his favourite weeks of the year.
Shane Lowry is the latest major champion and the Irishman will have his eyes set on more silverware this week at Wentworth. Lowry produced an exceptional display of front running at Portrush to win the Open Championship in July and his target is firmly fixed on qualifying for the European Ryder Cup team. The points start counting this week and Lowry will be determined to get off to the ideal start.
Lowry is a big fan of Wentworth and his record backs this up with several near misses at the tournament. The Race to Dubai leader was fourth at the PGA Championship in 2011, second in 2014, as well as sixth in both 2015 and 2017. Lowry also comes into this week refreshed after a break following his early exit in the FedEx Cup. He knows this is a great chance to put a marker down for Ryder Cup qualification and his course credentials suggest he is worth support at 33/1.
Van Rooyen to threaten a quick second win
Erik van Rooyen has been knocking on the door for a European Tour win over the last 18 months and after breaking through, the floodgates could open. The consistent South African has had a spate of near misses but brilliantly got over the line last month with a final round 64 firing him to victory at the Scandinavian Invitation. He backed this up with a solid 12th at the European Masters and will be hungry for more trophies.
Van Rooyen has already compiled six top tens this season, which includes two runner-up finishes and his breakthrough win. The 29-year-old has been one of the best ball strikers on the European Tour over the last two years and can be expected to push on after ending his wait for a title. He turned up to Wentworth last year, off the back of successive missed cuts, shooting four under-par rounds for 20th. Much better can be expected this time, in his current form and with confidence levels soaring, making him a strong bet at 40/1 each way.
Marcus Kinhult landed his maiden European Tour title at the British Masters this year and there could be more success on the horizon in England this weekend. The 23-year-old showed great composure in May to hold off Robert MacIntyre, Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace for victory at Hillside. This will be his second appearance at Wentworth and he made a promising debut last year, recovering from an opening 74 to climb up into 12th position.
Kinhult’s first title came off a run of four successive missed cuts but the Swede’s recent form is much more encouraging. A ten-under-par weekend pushed him up to 20th, in front of his home fans at the Scandinavian Invitation, last month. It was a similar story on his last outing at the European Masters as weekend rounds of 65 resulted in a tie for 12th, during a week when he was fifth for greens in regulation. Kinhult comes into Wentworth with belief in his game, after his win in England, with the rising star a tempting bet at 90/1 each way.
Guido Migliozzi will be competing in his first PGA Championship but the rookie certainly should not be ruled out at a big price. It has been a superb breakthrough year for the 22-year-old with victories at the Kenya Open and the Belgian Knockout. Both wins came on tight, tree-lined courses and suggest he will be comfortable competing at Wentworth.
Migliozzi comes in with promising recent form after a top-35 finish at the European Masters was followed by seventh place at the European Open in Germany. His impressive long game should be well suited to the course with Migliozzi ranked fourth for strokes gained tee to green and seventh for strokes gained on approach. Molinari and Matteo Mannassero have both won at Wentworth in the last decade and confident Migliozzi could be the latest Italian to succeed in Surrey at generous odds of 150/1 each way.
Francesco Molinari Each Way
Shane Lowry Each Way
Erik van Rooyen Each Way
Marcus Kinhult Each Way
Guido Migliozzi Each Way