Racing Post golf guru Steve Palmer delivers his verdict on the BMW PGA Championship from the famous West Course at Wentworth.
The DP World Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, starts at Wentworth on Thursday, boasting a high-class field, including world number three Rory McIlroy.
|What||BMW PGA Championship|
|Where||West Course, Wentworth, Virginia Water, Surrey|
|When||From 07:00, Thursday 8th September to Sun 11th September, 2022|
|How to watch||Sky Sports Main Event/Golf|
|Odds||Rory McIlroy 6/1, Jon Rahm 8/1, Matthew Fitzpatrick 11/1, Shane Lowry 16/1|
The four-times Major champion will be the centre of attention in the build-up to the Surrey showpiece.
McIlroy won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup last time out - and has been in the headlines too for his criticism of the breakaway LIV Golf circuit.
McIlroy, who can be backed at 6/1 for victory this week, has admitted after winning the FedEx Cup that he was going to find it "hard to stomach" seeing the LIV Golf defectors at Wentworth.
Patrick Reed, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter are among the LIV players who have been allowed to tee up in the BMW PGA, much to the chagrin of McIlroy. The locker-room tensions and the inevitable media focus on this great golfing split may unsettle McIlroy at a course where his record is mixed.
Eight years ago, McIlroy triumphed at Wentworth, but he has also missed the cut four times. The course requires discipline, precision and control, so this naturally attacking character can come unstuck.
Jon Rahm is an 8/1 chance for Wentworth glory - a more appealing option than McIlroy. Rahm has got an incredible strike-rate in DP World Tour events and seems to thrive any time he downgrades from the PGA Tour.
The Spaniard was runner-up in his only previous BMW PGA and can be expected to contend again. A wide range of each-way terms are available.
The West Course at Wentworth is a 7,267-yard, par-72, featuring four par-fives, two of which comprise the closing two holes.
The legendary Harry Colt design has been the host venue for the PGA Championship since 1984 and also staged the World Match Play from 1964 to 2007.
In 2019, the event moved from its usual May slot to September. All the putting surfaces have a sub-air system to drain moisture from them, so the thunderstorms which have been seen in Surrey early in the week should not have too much of an impact on the greens.
Tall trees line the fairways, many of which are doglegs, so it is a demanding driving course. Long-game accuracy combined with short-game wizardry is typically the ticket to success at Wentworth.
David Howell, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Luke Donald (twice), Rory McIlroy, Chris Wood, Francesco Molinari, Danny Willett, Tyrrell Hatton, Billy Horschel.
The 2022 campaign has been a solid one for Shane Lowry, but he is yet to lift any silverware, so expect a focused performance from the Irishman at Wentworth.
The 16/1 against his name appears full of juice given how well he typically performs at this venue.
Lowry, who has missed only one cut all year, was an unlucky runner-up in the Honda Classic in February, then he followed up that near-miss with third place in the Masters at Augusta, and third again in the RBC Heritage.
Last time out he was 12th in the BMW Championship.
Fourth place in the 2011 BMW PGA was the start of Lowry becoming a leaderboard regular at Wentworth. He was runner-up in 2014, sixth in 2015, sixth in 2017, and can boast nine top-20s in 12 BMW PGA starts.
Expect Matt Fitzpatrick and his trusty caddie Billy Foster to enjoy themselves this week. The 11/1 about the US Open champion putting the icing on the cake of a career-best year by winning at Wentworth is well worth considering.
Fitzpatrick has gone up a level this term, underlined by his world ranking of 11, and he will be relishing the chance to show off in front of large home crowds. Since winning the US Open, he has been sixth in the Scottish Open and fifth in the FedEx St Jude Championship
Fitzpatrick was 12th in the 2017 BMW PGA, eighth in 2018 and sixth in 2020, and his maiden European Tour title came at a similarly tree-lined track in southern England - Woburn - for the 2015 British Masters.
The 140/1 on offer for Marcus Kinhult is well worth an each-way investment. He was 12th on his Wentworth debut in 2018, then 10th in 2020.
After third-place finishes in the Qatar Masters and Cazoo Classic this year, the tidy Swede appears to be getting back to his best.
Kinhult's lone DP World Tour victory came in England - in the 2019 British Masters.