BMW PGA Championship Preview, Picks & Analysis
THE European Tour’s flagship event returns to Wentworth this week, with former Masters champion Danny Willett defending his title. With no spectators in attendance, it is going to be a very different animal but, with the exceptions of Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, most of Europe’s leading players will be chasing the third Rolex Series event of this extraordinary season.
Willett will be joined in Surrey by Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Justin Rose, with Rose desperate to arrest his slump in the world rankings.
They will be hoping to emulate Willett by becoming the 26th English player to win the tournament, while Willett is trying to become the first player since Luke Donald in 2012 to successfully defend the title, having beaten Rahm in a dramatic final round last year.
The 2016 Masters champion birdied the final two holes to secure a three-stroke triumph. It came after his victory at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in 2018 and confirmed that the Yorkshireman was finally back to his best after a troubled spell following his Masters win. He suffered problems with his back and parted company with his caddie and coach before getting things back on track.
Willett said: “I cannot wait to defend my BMW PGA Championship title. It was such a special win for me on home soil, particularly beating a player of the quality of Jon Rahm and in the manner that I did it. Obviously it will be a little different this year without fans but I know Wentworth will be in superb condition and hopefully we can put on a good show for the fans watching on television.”
Willett will be joined by fellow two-time Rolex Series winners in Fitzpatrick, Fleetwood, Hatton and Rose. Fleetwood won the HNA Open de France in 2017, before adding a second at last year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Hatton claimed the 2017 Italian Open title after a dramatic birdie on the final hole to make it back-to-back European Tour wins, two weeks after triumphing at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He picked up his second Rolex Series title at the 2019 Turkish Airlines Open after emerging victorious from a six man play-off. The 28-year-old already has one victory in 2020 having claimed a maiden PGA Tour title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. Hatton is enjoying a sensational run of form and has become a truly world-class golfer and there are signs that he is finally getting his notoriously fiery temperament under control. He is definitely the man to beat at Wentworth.
Rose won the Turkish Airlines Open in 2017 and 2018 and reached the top of the world rankings but he has had a miserable season and is now outside the top 20. He has never won the BMW PGA Championship but has come close twice. Way back in 2007, he was beaten in a play-off by Anders Hansen and in 2012, he entered the final day two shots behind Luke Donald but was unable to catch him.
Five-time European Tour winner Fitzpatrick is yet to win a Rolex Series title but did win the DP World Tour Championship in 2016 – the year before the launch of the Rolex Series. He finished in a share of second at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January behind Lee Westwood.
(The Man to Beat?)
Westwood is also in the field, along with Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter. The trio boast 20 Ryder Cup appearances between them. Two-time Major winner Kaymer has won on three of the four occasions he represented Europe, including famously holing the winning putt to seal the trophy at Medinah in 2012.
The German will be making his 13th consecutive appearance at the BMW PGA Championship and is full of confidence after rediscovering his very best form in recent weeks. All that is missing is a win.
Poulter is one of the greatest Ryder Cup players of the modern era, having been a talisman for Europe since his winning debut in 2004 at Oakland Hills – his first of five Ryder Cup wins in six appearances. The 44-year-old has 12 European Tour victories to his name but is yet to win on English soil. He has made the cut in five of his past six appearances at Wentworth, with his best result coming in 2012, when he finished in a share of 10th, and will be looking to improve upon that this week.
Westwood – who boasts 10 appearances in The Ryder Cup, seven of them victorious - has won at Wentworth’s West Course, where he claimed the World Match Play Championship in 2000. He will be looking to add the BMW PGA Championship title to his 25 European Tour victories, which include two Rolex Series triumphs.
The 47-year-old claimed his first European Tour win in four years with victory in the 2018 Nedbank Golf Challenge, before earlier this year holding off Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood and Victor Perez to claim the Abu Dhabi Championship. It was won in 2015 by Ben An, in 2016 by Chris Wood, in 2017 by Alex Noren, in 2018 by Francesco Molinari and last year by Danny Willett.
Tyrrell Hatton. World class
Tommy Fleetwood. West Course is made for him
Matthew Fitzpatrick. Straight down the middle...
Tyrrell Hatton. Can win anywhere now
Tommy Fleetwood. Could do with a decent week
Matthew Fitzpatrick. Sure to be there or thereabouts
Danny Willett. Great memories
Justin Rose. Desperate to find some form
Ian Poulter. Has come to make up the numbers
Martin Kaymer. Back to his best - almost
Bernd Wiesberger. Impressive in every aspect
Lee Westwood. Oldest swinger in town
Matt Wallace. Needs to find more fairways
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Tags: european tour