Tuesday, 23 May 2017

BMW PGA Championship 2017 - Wentworth

We roll on to the Europeantour's flagship event this week, the BMW PGA Championship, to be played at the yet again, re-vamped Wentworth. This will also mark the start of the inaugural Rolex Series and therefore carries a purse of $7M. Whether the efforts to get the design of Wentworth right to appease the tour's leading players is down to maintaining this as the so-called flagship event or not remains to be seen, but with a purse of this size we get a stellar field in attendance. Unfortunately, Rory McIlroy, winner here in 2014, will be missing in action as he recovers from the rib injury that flared up again at Sawgrass two weeks ago. Favourtism is therefore handed to Justin Rose ahead of good friend, Henrik Stenson.

Whilst there have been a few changes made to the course in the past twelve months, centred mainly around the greens and fairway bunkers, the course should still reward good ball strikers who find the fairways and greens moreover than those that like to bomb their way around. Down the years we have had some shock winners but in recent times it's fair to say the winners enclosure is becoming a who's who of European golf and I believe the future cream of European golf will prevail once more this week.

Justin Rose goes off favourite but it's hard to get excited about his chances where he last produced a result here worth talking about back in 2012 when runner-up to Luke Donald. Form at the course since hasn't been great, but Rose is a world player now and may just be the type to take on the Rolex Series but he's too short here this week for a bet. So is Stenson, who has struggled to find the form that took him to Open glory last year and he can be dismissed based on loss of form and price.Its the pack just in behind that has my attention and it's very difficult to ignore the chances of Francesco Molinari this week. Yes, we all know Franni doesn't get it done coming down the stretch on Sundays but surely one who keeps knocking on the door will prevail at some point ? The Italian has been very consistent for over 18 months now and Wentworth is a course, just like Sawgrass that he has formidable form on. Sixth at The Players two weeks ago suggest he's comfortable returning to favourite tracks and returning a decent result at this moment in time, and if we are to ignore last year's effort here, we can be excited by the form of 5-7-9-7 in the four years previously. He's been plying his trade namely on the PGA tour this year where he is 11/12 with 4 TOP10s/8 TOP20s. He doesn't usually come in to my outright staking plans but @ 21.00 I'm happy to get involved. Alex Noren & Benny An at slightly bigger prices (22/1 & 25/1) are very appealing but of the three I prefer to side with the Italian this week although An, winner here two years ago is not dismissed lightly.

I've always thought Martin Kaymer would love Wentworth and win here some day and perhaps he will but I will overlook him here in preference to the two English lads, Tommy Fleetwood and Matty Fitzpatrick @ 33/1 & 40/1 respectively. Both are the future of the European Tour and both have started to put their own stamp on big events and will not be here this week looking solely for a big cheque! Fleetwood will be looking forward to the Open at Birkdale this summer as a home event for him and he'll be wanting to take the form right through to July starting here this week in the tour's biggest event. Tee to green, he is ideal for Wentworth despite a mixed bag of results in his 5 visits to date (6th being his best result two years ago). 41st at Sawgrass last time out and beaten in a playoff to Bernd Wiesberger in Shezhen prior to that, Fleetwood arrives rested and in form. He's 5/8 on tour this season with a win (Abu Dhabi) and 4 TOP5s, including a runners up placing behind Dustin Johnson at the WGC in Mexico. Always a good scorer on par-5s, Fleetwood has real chance to add to his title collection this week.

Matt Fitzpatrick arrives with some question marks following poor results of late but there is still some juice in the 40/1 price here. Two missed cuts at Hilton Head and Sawgrass are hardly deterrents for a selecting him here though. A solid Masters performance again at Augusta shouldn't be ignored and indeed results at the aforementioned WGC in Mexico as well as the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill are more encouraging where he posted 13 & 16th finishes. His game is well suited to Wentworth and should the flatstick get hot this week he has a good a chance as anyone this week.

Shane Lowry has form here and indeed should have won in 2014 ahead of Rory. He was on my shortlist of 15 here but given his schedule yet again this year seems to have no real flow to it, perhaps due to new fatherhood duties,and the fact he arrives with little form to ride on, he's omitted from the staking plan. I am hoping Shane's schedule will be focused for the remainder of the year as I fully expect him to win before the year is out.

Staking Plan

1.5 pts e/w F. Molinari @ 21.00
1.5 pts e/w T. Fleetwood @ 34.00
1.5 pts e/w M.Fitzpatrick @ 41.00

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