The BMW PGA Championship has always attracted the brightest stars in the game. It's long been known as the European Tour's flagship event.
With that being said, an off-week on the PGA TOUR will provide maximum exposure this week.
The longtime host of this event is Wentworth Club so let's hop right in and discuss the layout.
The West Course at Wentworth Club is the host course this week. It has played that role since the 1984 edition so there is loads of course history to lean on this week.
This classical Harry Colt design was laid out in 1927 and it's been renovated by Ernie Els.
For tournament play, they will stretch the par 72 out to 7,267 yards.
That is relatively short by today's standards. Five of the par 4s play under 420 yards and three of the par 5s play under 555 yards. That is plenty accessible to all players in the field. Distance is not a requirement here.
This course has yielded winning scores of 15-under or tougher in nine of the last 14 years but are the days of those tough scoring conditions over? The last three winners have been 17-under, 20-under, and 19-under. A big piece of that equation is a move from late Spring to late Summer/early Fall.
Last year, for instance, we saw soft conditions that made the course play longer but also softer and more receptive.
Off the tee, there are lots of options for golfers. You can play aggressively but that can come back to bite you quickly. Others will lay back more often with irons off the tee and play positional golf. If you look at the list of yearly contenders here, it's definitely not a course where you need power.
On approach, golfers will see plenty of risk-reward shots and poor shots will leave you in the water and/or looking at a tough up-and-down.
As for the greens, they will be greeted with creeping bentgrass that typically run around 12 feet on the stimp. They have Sub-Air systems so they can generally firm them up as they want.
Overall, this is a tough course but as I alluded to before, the move to September has softened the scoring a bit. The scoring average over the last two years has been 72.08 which is quite a bit easier than the three previous editions (72.75).
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Sifting through some past quotes, let's try to break down the course to see how it will play.
Patrick Reed: "It's one of these that you have to hit so many different kind of shots off the tee, working the ball both ways, as well as distance. Sometimes you're sending driver trying to get on it and sometimes you're trying to lay back to a number. Because of that, the fairways are a little bit softer, but the greens are really firm and have some speed to them. So it's going to be a premium on playing from the fairway. You have to play it from the fairway so you can control the irons and go into the green. At that point, just comes out to throwing darts and make sure you're hitting your numbers."
Billy Horschel: "I think it makes you think around the course. Too many times in America, we just get up on tees, hit drivers. You don't have to really think about where to hit it. You know, same things into greens, where you miss it on a green is really not that important a lot of weeks. Here, you've got to be smart where you put the ball in the fairway, especially going into greens, you can put it in some bad spots around the greens, you miss it and really make it hard to get up-and-down. Just a really thinking man he's golf course."
Tony Finau: "Tricky. You have to hit it in play. Every hole allows you to make birdie, but also big numbers lurk on every hole. I think that's the sign of a good golf course."
Jon Rahm: "I think it's a great golf course. That's why I love coming back to Europe to play these traditional style golf courses, where they are not long, on paper, ideally, they are not overly complicated but things can get difficult for a player real quick. They make you think about it. You can be as aggressive or as conservative as you want off the tee and make it fun that way."
Thursday: Showers with a high of 74 degrees. Winds at 6 to 12 MPH.
Friday: Light rain with a high of 72 degrees. Winds at 3 to 9 MPH.
Golfers will have to deal with light rain for most of the week but if they can avoid the heavy stuff then it's possible to avoid any delays.
Golfers to Watch
The youngster may not have the experience but he's established himself as the class of this field, over the last year or so. Hovland posted four rounds of 70 or better two years ago in his BMW PGA debut (T11) and gamers should expect something similar this week. He opens as the pre-tournament favorite on the betting board.
The Englishman has posted top 12s in three of his last four trips to Wentworth. The 27-year-old has missed back-to-back cuts in the lead-up to this event but a comfortable layout might be the perfect cure for that late-season slump.
The Ryder Cup is just around the corner so it's no surprise to see Poults enter the week with top-40 finishes in 12 of his last 14 worldwide events. What about at Wentworth? His name would fit perfectly on the list of winners that largely rely on course management and short game. He's played here four times in the last five years with a 5th place finish last year being the highlight.
The Englishman lapped the field here last year but he arrives with just one top 10 in his last 13 worldwide starts. Will some home cooking spark him back into form?
He arrives off a strong showing at East Lake. Will jet lag be a concern or will he keep the momentum rolling? Horschel had great things to say about the course when he showed up here in 2019 and finished in fourth place that week.
Ranking the Field
1. Viktor Hovland
2. Shane Lowry
3. Tyrrell Hatton
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
5. Ian Poulter
6. Alex Noren
7. Guido Migliozzi
8. Bernd Wiesberger
9. Adam Scott
10. Tommy Fleetwood
11. Lee Westwood
12. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
13. Justin Rose
14. Matt Wallace
15. Robert MacIntyre
16. Branden Grace
17. Calum Hill
18. Garrick Higgo
19. Billy Horschel
20. Richard Bland