Dan Box
By Dan Box

If you're looking to clinch a spot on the European Ryder Cup team, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth is your last chance. At the conclusion of this week's Rolex Series event, the qualification process will conclude and Captain Padraig Harrington will announce his three Captain's Picks for the trip to Whistling Straits at the end of the month.

2021 BMW PGA Championship Preview

Image Credit: BMW PGA Championship Twitter

With the likes of Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Bernd Wiesberger and Bob MacIntyre all currently outside of the automatic spots, it's still all to play for this week and one thing is for certain - some top quality golfers are going to end up disappointed.

Last Year

The BMW PGA Championship had been moved to a new slot in September in order to fit better with the new major schedule and tempt some of the big stars to make the trip from the United States to play, but then COVID happened and the event was delayed until October.

Tyrrell Hatton was the winner in 2020, battling some difficult conditions at times, as well as plenty of stick online for his choice of hoodie whilst playing!

The Englishman had opened up a three-shot lead heading into Sunday and despite some pressure from Victor Perez, found five birdies on his closing nine holes to eventually record a relatively comfortable four-stroke win.

American Patrick Reed, a huge supporter of the European Tour, finished in a tie for third with Andy Sullivan, while Ian Poulter was fifth.

The Course

The West Course at Wentworth, also known as Burma Road, was designed in 1926 but has been changed regularly since, with the most recent adaptations being undertaken by local resident Ernie Els to generally positive reviews.

One of the keys to the recent success at the course has been the SubAir system, which has done wonders for course and green conditions. This allows the levels of moisture on the greens to be specifically controlled, allowing greens staff to dictate how firm or soft they want the conditions to be.

Although the course is not short at nearly 7,300 yards, it is also relatively tight and tree-lined and so has produced a wide array of winners. A look at the list of recent winners - Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett, Alex Noren, Francesco Molinari - show that length off the tee is not paramount but quality ball-striking is.

The 18th hole is one that is instantly recognisable to most European golf fans, a true risk-reward par 5 where the approach is played over water to a sloping green. Could we see more drama here this week?

2021 BMW PGA Championship Preview

Image Credit: BMW PGA Championship Twitter

With winning scores hovering around 20 under par over the last few years there's certainly plenty of opportunities for birdies around the course, although last year's wet conditions softened the greens and the recent hot weather should mean the course plays firm and fast.

The Field

It's fair to say that the schedules for many golfers on the top tours has been busy this summer - with majors, The Olympics, Rolex Series events and FedEx Cup playoffs - but the field for the European Tour's flagship event is still pretty strong this week.

Headlining are Viktor Hovland, who is the lowest ranked player in the field and finished fifth at last week's FedEx Cup finale, and defending champion Tyrrell Hatton.

A whole host of other English players, including Matt Fitzpatrick, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose are present, joining the likes of Billy Horschel and Adam Scott in making the trip over the Atlantic after their PGA Tour seasons ended.

Henrik Stenson, Bob MacIntyre and Victor Perez are 'on the bubble' when it comes to Ryder Cup qualification, and Shane Lowry currently occupies the final automatic spot so will be looking for a good week to confirm his place.

Rasmus and Nicolai Hojgaard, the impressive 20 year-old Danish twins who sensationally won in consecutive weeks on the European Tour, are attracting plenty of interest at the moment and it will be interesting to see how they fare against a top-quality field in a big event.

Last but not least, and despite the fact that he has got a very busy few weeks coming up, Padraig Harrington is teeing it up at Wentworth and it may be a useful way for him to keep a close eye on some of his potential picks this week.

In true Padraig style, he's still working hard on the range with weird and wonderful training aids despite having recently celebrated his 50th birthday.

Golfalot Betting Tips

Alex Noren @ 22/1

The 2017 Champion has been in good form recently after a couple of lean seasons, but returns here on the back of two consecutive top 10s in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and is heading towards the Top 50 in the world rankings. The Swede has an excellent record at Wentworth and is a much fairer price than the likes of Hatton and Hovland.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout @ 33/1

The South African will be flying high after just securing his PGA Tour card for the first time and has the kind of consistent all-round game that should see him contend at any course he tees it up. Yet to miss a cut in 2021, Bezuidenhout will also have happy memories of Wentworth after finishing third here in 2019, followed up with a decent showing last year too.

Henrik Stenson @ 45/1

After really struggling over the last 18 months, Stenson is finally starting to show the form that he is capable of and a strong performance this week may just give Padraig Harrington a headache when it comes to Ryder Cup picks. Has a good record at Wentworth and it's a course that should suit his style of play.


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