Daniel Box
By Daniel Box

It may feel like the golfing season has drawn to a close following the breathaking finale to the 2019 Solheim Cup last weekend, but as far as the European Tour is concerned, there is still plenty of excitement in store before the season concludes in Dubai this November.

2019 BMW PGA Championship Preview

The next of these is one of the most highly anticipated events on the European schedule - the historic BMW PGA Championship. This year the tournament has moved from its traditional May date to September, bringing the opportunity to attract the best players from all over the world.

The event is one of the Rolex Series tournaments on the European Tour, offering more prize money and more world rankings points. It is also the first event which will be handing out points towards Ryder Cup 2020 qualification, so a good week here could go a long way towards booking a ticket to Whistling Straits next September.

Last Year

Francesco Molinari started his ascent towards the top of the game in May last year when he held off the challenge of Rory McIlroy in his first victory of what was to be a remarkable summer for the Italian.

2019 BMW PGA Championship Preview

The Northern Irishman was in the lead at 12 under par going into the weekend but could only improve his score by three strokes over the next two rounds, while Molinari's bogey-free finish of 66 and 68 was enough to give him a two-stroke victory.

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.

2019 BMW PGA Championship Preview

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. The new September date should allow the course to benefit from a full summer of warm weather too.

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. 2019 BMW PGA Championship Preview

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?

The Field

Quite possibly the strongest field that this event has ever had, and easily one of the strongest on the European Tour so far this season. The prestige of the event, the world ranking and Ryder Cup points on offer, and the new date in the calendar mean that this tournament is again able to attract the world's best golfers.

Ten of the twelve European Ryder Cup heroes have made the trip to Wentworth, as last year's winner Molinari is joined by the world's hottest golfer Rory McIlroy, as well as the likes of Rose, Rahm, Fleetwood and recent winner Casey.

Champion Golfer of the Year Shane Lowry makes his first appearance in Europe since his incredible triumph at Royal Portrush, and although he may be feeling a little rusty he has finished in the Top 15 on six different occasions at Wentworth.

Finally, it's good to see that some of the PGA Tour's stars have made the journey across the Atlantic to London to get a head-start in the race for a spot in Steve Stricker's Ryder Cup team.

Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Billy Horschel will all get a look at Wentworth this week, and if they've got any sense, they may also nip down the M25 to Royal St George's on a scouting missing for next year's Open.

Our Tips

The Favourite - Jon Rahm @ 11/1

Rahm seems to be a specialist at these type of events - not quite the level of a major or a WGC, but bigger than your average European Tour event. He has already won multiple Rolex Series tournaments and seems to thrive on the big crowds and strong fields.

Though he may be feeling a little rusty following a few weeks off, the World Number Six has had another fantastic season and will be looking to get his name right to the top of the Race to Dubai as the European Tour reaches its climax.

The Outsider - Thomas Pieters @ 45/1

The big-hitting Belgian has rediscovered the kind of form that led to him being proclaimed as the 'next big thing' following the 2016 Ryder Cup, which was capped with a win just a few weeks ago at the Czech Masters.

Since then Pieters has four successive Top 20 finishes which have seen him slip comfortably back inside the Top 100 in the World Rankings, and the West Course at Wentworth is one he could play well at if he uses his length to his advantage.

14th and 27th placed finishes show that there are some signs of decent form at the venue, and that coupled with his recent form mean that he could be worth a punt this week.

The Longshot - Andrew Johnston @ 125/1

After a tough couple of years following his inital burst onto the scene, including some off-course issues which really took their toll, the popular Englishman is back doing what he does best - playing good golf and entertaining the crowds.

Beef finished T4 at the Scottish Open and has since followed that up with a T10 in Sweden and T23 in Switzerland, so arrives in decent form to a course where he has played well in the past. He will surely have the crowd behind him this week, and there won't be many golf fans who wouldn't love to see him perform well again.


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