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The Greatest Wentworth Legends

By: | Tue 07 Sep 2021 | Comments

Surrey's Wentworth Golf Club has long established a place within the hearts of British golf fans. It was initially recognised for hosting the Ryder Cup in 1953 and the World Cup in 1956 - won by Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. But when the stars arrived for the World Match Play Championship in 1964, that's when the venue's status became iconic.

For 45 years, the finest competed in the Match Play, an event that was a televised staple and part of the culture, while the European Tour's PGA Championship made its permanent home on the estate in 1984. 

Through the decades, Wentworth has been synonymous with the best of European golf, the champions who have defined it, and the greats who inspired the masses. We take a look back at the most successful winners of the PGA and World Match Play - the Wentworth Legends.

Ernie Els

The South African's affinity for Wentworth saw him based there for many years and included a controversial redesign of the West Course. A three-time runner-up at the PGA Championship, Els tasted victory a remarkable seven times in the World Match Play between 1994 and 2007.

Seve Ballesteros

30 years ago, the legendary Spaniard defeated Colin Montgomerie in a playoff to win the PGA, but most golf fans of that era recall Seve's five triumphs in the Match Play at Wentworth, including final victories over Ben Crenshaw, Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer and Nick Price.

Ian Woosnam

The brilliant Welshman claimed the PGA at Wentworth twice (1988 and 1997), with a trio of Match Play titles thrown in too, the last of which came at the age of 43 in 2001, when Woosnam defeated Padraig Harrington in the final.

Gary Player

During the early years of the Match Play, South African legend Gary Player dominated, winning five times against his fellow elite players, including successes over Open great Peter Thomson, Jack Nicklaus, Bob Charles, and underrated Australian Graham Marsh.

Colin Montgomerie

Most associated with the Ryder Cup, arguably Monty's most significant individual achievement was his stunning hat-trick of PGA Championship victories at Wentworth, underlining his dominance on the European Tour around the turn of the Millenium. The Scot also defeated Mark O'Meara to win the Match Play in 1999. 

Bernhard Langer

The incredible German won three PGA Championships at Wentworth, in 1987, 1993 and 1995. The World Golf Hall of Fame star also finished runner-up to Howard Clark in 1984, before he lost a pair of Match Play finals to Seve Ballesteros.

Nick Faldo

England's greatest, Nick Faldo won three PGA Championships in the years before it was established at Wentworth, but he finished two shots ahead of Ian Woosnam to win there in 1989 weeks after claiming his first Masters. Months later, Faldo again beat Woosie in the final of the Match Play, before establishing himself as a regular Surrey contender during the 1990s.

Greg Norman

The charismatic Australian was a three-time Match Play winner at Wentworth, recording a pair of final successes over Sandy Lyle, with a victory over Nick Faldo sandwiched between them, but Norman didn't manage to claim the PGA.

Luke Donald

Never underestimate how good Luke Donald was at his peak, which came at Wentworth. His PGA win in 2011 saw him overtake compatriot Lee Westwood and become world number one. 12 months later, he was back and successfully defended in more comfortable fashion by four shots.

Anders Hansen

The underrated Dane had two career peaks at Wentworth, winning the PGA by five shots in 2002, before defeating Justin Rose to claim the title for a second time in 2007.

Paul Casey

The Englishman blew away Shaun Micheel in the final of the Match Play in 2006, but it was a much tighter affair three years later when he finished one shot ahead of the charging Ross Fisher to secure the PGA title and his status as a Wentworth great.

Hale Irwin

Three-time US Open champion Hale Irwin was twice a winner of the Match Play at Wentworth, defeating Gary Player in 1974 and Al Geiberger in 1975.

Arnold Palmer

Winner of the inaugural World Match Play at Wentworth in 1964, Palmer defeated British legend Neil Coles in the final, three years before he claimed a narrow victory over Peter Thomson. The American icon did win a PGA Championship, but that came in 1975 at Royal St George's.

Most British golf fans have memories of Wentworth from either the PGA Championship or World Match Play. Let us know your favourite moments!

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