The class, the exclusivity and tranquil settings of Wentworth take center stage again this weekend as the best of the European Tour take on the 7,200 yard West Course hoping to lift the trophy on Sunday afternoon. But what makes Wentworth’s West Course so special? Thanks to its rich history of the PGA Championship, the World Match Play, and even the 1953 Ryder Cup, it has become the holy grail, the Augusta National, of British golf.
The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth has become the European Tours flagship event and draws in over 125,000 people every single year. It has gone from strength to strength since Ernie Els’ £6.5m transformation back in 2009 which included water frontage at the world famous 18th hole and USGA approved greens and bunkers. This has completely changed the look of the course which saw both Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer win a record three times between the years of 1987-2000. Other multiple winners of the tournament are Luke Donald, Ian Woosnam, and European Ryder Cup legend Seve Ballesteros. The last Englishmen to win the PGA came in the shape of Chris Wood who took the title back in 2016 as he managed to shake off Rikard Karlberg and an in-form Danny Willet to secure his third European Tour title. With this year’s event fast approaching, every single one of the 150 golfers teeing up will want to add their name to the illustrious list who have won it before them, or even add a second or third title to their trophy room, in some cases. But the PGA at Wentworth wouldn’t be what it is today without the world famous Wednesday Celebrity Pro-Am. This year, the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jamie Redknapp, Piers Morgan, Nial Horan, Sam Quek and Damian Lewis all took part to put their golfing skills to the test under the biggest pressure with thousands of people flocking to see their Celebrity heroes line the fairways. The highlight of the event was easily Paul Scholes’ hole out from the greenside bunker on the par-four ninth hole after blatantly ignoring former professional golfer and Sky Sports presenter, Andrew Coltart’s, advice of ‘playing safe’ and the former Manchester United midfielder reaped the rewards. But once Wednesday’s fun is over, the real stuff begins. Ian Poulter, Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren and Rory McIlroy are only some of the names playing this weekend with the later looking to kick-start his season. “There’s a lot of big tournaments to play,” McIlroy told The Telegraph, “I have still got three major championships and a Ryder Cup, and everything else. Maybe this could be the spark that gets that all going again.”
Here are some highlights from Rory’s day 1 action courtesy of the amazing European Tour YouTube Channel. Subscribe. —>
Ian Poulter will be hoping to put his Wentworth woes behind him and top the PGA Championship leaderboard this week and he will be encouraged by his early season form. The resurgence of Ian Poulter continues after, at one stage last season, was as high as 207 in the world rankings but dropped to as low as 29th in the world after his win at the Houston Open this year.
But what about a local hero?
Everyone’s favourite, Andrew ‘beef‘ Johnston, will be looking to bring home the glory for his fans at his home club in Barnet. The world number 137 who won his maiden title at the Open de España in 2016, has made quite a name for himself on both the European and PGA Tours and even holed out for a hole-in-one at the par three 10th two years ago which sparked massive celebrations. But this year is another year and the 29-year-old has shown he is up for the fight when he deadlifted a whopping 485Ibs in the gym earlier this week. Slightly different to when he surprised this 9 year old kid for his birthday last year at Wentworth. Classic!
So we are all primed for a stellar week, we have our star players, our resurgence and our local hero, it is all set up to be one to remember.