Top European field line up for BMW PGA
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2008 BMW PGA Championship | Preview | 21 May 2008
Arguably the greatest European Tour event outside of the majors, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, will start this Thursday with a field reflecting the highly regarded nature of both the event and the tournament venue.
Almost all of Europe’s best – the notable exceptions being Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia – are at Wentworth this week, seeking to claim not only a significant slice of the more than €4 million purse but the chance to claim one of the most prestigious titles in European golf.
Surprisingly however, and despite the status of the event and the strength of the field, the recent winners have hardly been the who’s who of the European Tour, with the possible exceptions of Angel Cabrera and David Howell.
The West Course at Wentworth or the ‘Burma Road’ is one of the professional game’s great arenas and has played host to this event since 1984. Originally designed by Harry Colt, the layout has recently been updated by Wentworth resident Ernie Els who starts as one of the favourites this week despite his lack of success in this event.
Interestingly Els has been a prolific winner at Wentworth but those victories have come at the World Match Play typically played in early October. Why Els has been unable to play as well in May remains a mystery but, although he has mixed his recent form, his 6th placing at the Players Championship offers some hope of a better result in this week’s event.
Vijay Singh is in the field and with a third place finish in 2007 behind Anders Hansen, which included a final round of 66, he will test not only Els but any other potential contender. Singh missed the cut at the recent Players Championship but he was in exceptional form prior and could easily win his first stand alone European Tour event since the 2001 Singapore Masters.
Lee Westwood has never won this event but there has been plenty to like about the way he has played generally in 2008 and I would imagine he could do very well this week. He finished third in Ireland last week and three starts ago finished 11th at the Masters.
Justin Rose was Europe’s leading player in 2007 and some of that success could be attributed to a runner up place finish to Anders Hansen last year. Rose has missed the cut in his last two starts but if he has overcome some injury problems of late he should recover the early 2008 season form and contend this week.
Anders Romero is one of the game’s most exciting young talents and as a player who finished 8th at Augusta on debut and so nearly won the Open Championship in 2207 and finished 12th in this event last year, then surely this is not too much to ask. A winner on the PGA Tour this season the sky appears to be the limit for Romero and this event does not seem beyond him.
Other players who have genuine chances to do well include the US Open Champion, Angel Cabrera who seems to play well at this venue each and every year, has not played well in 2008 but he could so this week. Cabrera won in 2005 and might just find the form to do well this week.
Anders Hansen seems to have a lock on this event, winning in 2007 and in 2002 his victory in 2007 coming after a playoff. Hansen has not played great to date in 2008 but he has a love of this golf course and there is every chance of a great week. His form prior to the 2007 victory was not a lot better than this year’s efforts.
It has been more than twelve months since Henrik Stenson won anywhere but he has played well at Wentworth previously and is on the verge of further success. His recent form has been more than good enough for him to be figured a chance this week and he is expected to do well.
Robert Karlsson has been all around victory this season and Miguel Angel Jimenez given his 8th place at the recent Masters and top fives in each of his last two visits to Wentworth for this event is a great chance.
The Australasian chances include those of Richard Green, Mark Brown, Peter O’Malley, Michael Campbell, Kane Webber and Brett Rumford.