Dreams can come true.
It was hard not to shed a tear for Oliver Wilson on Sunday as he won his second European/DP World Tour event eight years after his initial victory. Despite runner-up Ewen Ferguson’s outstanding play, there is little that can be done against players that hole 65 foot birdie putts!
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For our bets, Marcus Helligkilde managed top Dane, but even the vociferous support of the locals couldn’t drag him to hold on for a place, whilst Oliver Hundeboll at least made the cut but was well beaten by a player called “equally promising” last week, in the shape of eventual third Kristian Krogh Johannessen.
Recent weeks at Crans and Himmerland may seem a step away from this week’s DP World Tour flagship event but there is plenty of evidence that form at these, and comparative tracks, gives players an improved chance at the BMW PGA in leafy Surrey.
Wentworth has had its controversies over the years, but this year takes place amidst some tension between the DP World players and their LIV counterparts. I’m almost ignoring those from the rebel tour, as well as those that played in a tense final round at the Korn Ferry Tour finale – emotions run high and tree-lined Wentworth will punish anyone without their full game.
Thomas Pieters Top Belgian8/11
Six-time European Tour winner, Thomas Pieters, is my idea of the best bet of the week.
Certainly, it is easy to put up much of the top-10 on the board, but if Rory McIlroy doesn’t win, the rest all possess a doubt or two about them at present, and the preference is to start further down.
Very much a course that tests every element of the game, confidence in the tee-to-green game has to be high to get the job done and Pieters has always shown he is top grade in that regard.
Currently, the Belgian ranks top-10 for strokes-gained-approach (iron play) and top-20 for the season in ball-striking (a combination of total driving and greens-in-regulation) and scrambling, so seems fully equipped for the all-round challenge.
Although the 30-year-old should probably have won either the BMW International or the Czech Masters, the performances have kept him inside the world’s top 40 players, a ranking achieved after winning in Abu Dhabi early in 2022, a tournament at which he has three further top five finishes.
With that event appearing in the formlines of recent Wentworth winners Tyrrell Hatton (winner in 2021), Danny Willett and Alex Noren, it sits nicely with the Belgian’s efforts at the DP World Championship (Hatton and Willett), the Scottish Open and much higher grade efforts when 4th at The Masters and 6th in Brooks Koepka’s PGA Championship.
Furthermore, he has gained strokes from tee-to-green in all bar one event since the start of May, will want a strong start to the 2023 Ryder Cup qualification process, and has a progressive profile here, leading at the cut mark in 2017 and with a best finish of ninth here 12 months ago.
Sure, there are the well-known temper issues, something he demonstrated after a couple of wild shots last time out, but we can’t guess the mental state – on the course, he is comfortable in this class and on this course.
In terms of the ‘special’ bet, the price has now come in from 4/5, but still represents value against Thomas Detry and Nicolas Colsaerts.
Colsaerts is a part-time player these days and can be ignored, leaving us with a match against talented but frustrating Detry, yet to win at this level, with a best of 43rd in four starts here, giving the selection 100 places on the rankings, and who has missed his last two cuts, including in Indiana over the weekend. I’d certainly expect Pieters to win this match eight of every ten tries.
Ewen Ferguson Top-106/1
Fabrizio Zanotti Top-107/1
Fabrizio Zanotti Top-2014/5
Andy Sullivan Top-204/1
Just a few words on each of the specials, all looking good value against a biased top of the market.
No intro for Ewen Ferguson, who comes into the event with two titles this year, something that he could have easily doubled.
The Scot learned a lot after being naïve in front during payday in tree-lined Kenya before proving to be the most resilient in Qatar, the hardiest player at Galgorm Castle, and to be honest, easily the best golfer on the park last week in Denmark.
In his last three completed outings, Ferguson averages seventh for approaches, second for tee-to-green, fourth for greens, fourth in scrambling and all that while putting up positive figures for the flat stick.
Winning on debut is tough, but he is certainly worth the chance to get on the front page given he will be far shorter the next time he tees it up in a standard DP event.
Possibly the best Paraguayan golfer in the world, Fabrizio Zanotti, comes here in fine form after a season’s results that confirm his liking for certain types of track.
A top-20 at the Desert Classic disguises that he was third at halfway and fifth going into Sunday, whilst finishes of 8th and 12th at The Belfry and Mount Juliet fit well with contenders here over the years.
Latterly, a pair of top-16 finishes at Crans and Himmerland came courtesy of eight rounds of 69 or less, where, at both, he ranked fifth for tee-to-green.
The 39-year-old hasn’t finished outside of the top-15 for driving accuracy all season and ranked fifth for tee-to-green on both his recent starts, all figures that suggest he can at least match his finishes of seventh, 15th and 16th around here, in all Wentworth’s various guises.
Andy Sullivan is a tough one to read, but when hitting form, it’s worth sticking with him for a brief spell of brilliance.
Although the Nuneaton 35-year-old has missed half his cuts this year, he caught the eye last week when ranking first for approaches and second in the tee-to-green lists, even if he gave back half the gained strokes with an appalling performance on the greens.
Lockdown was good to Sulli, winning at Hanbury Manor by a country mile, before four further top-10 finishes included The Belfry, Dubai (twice) and when third here, his seventh four-round event in a row.
2021 wasn’t as great, with some personal issues interfering in his game, though the three top-10s included The Belfry and Dubai, relevant to this week.
Once again, this season has seen him show up on less than a handful of occasions, but it looks significant that he has made his last five cuts with control of his irons.
It isn’t perfection by any means but he’s the type of streaky player to collapse in price after an excellent performance, so get hold of this sort of price while you can and before he goes on an even longer run when out of form.