The European Tour begins their brand new Rolex Series this week at the BMW PGA Championship, as some of the World’s best descends on Wentworth’s West Course.
Open and Olympic Champions Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose headline the European Tour’s flagship event, as 12 of the World’s top 35 tee up this week.
Rory McIlroy announced his late withdrawl from the event last week after irritating the rib injury he picked up at the South African Open, but the field still boasts nine of last year’s European Ryder Cup team in addition to five former BMW PGA Champions.
If you play our Fantasy Golf game, you’ll know you’ve only got until midnight on Wednesday to make changes to your team – but who should you pick?
Fantasy Golf: BMW PGA Championship
Past Champions in the field: Chris Wood (2016), Byeong Hun An (’15), Matteo Manassero (’13), Luke Donald (’11, ’12) and David Howell (’06’).
Tommy Fleetwood: Fantasy Price £10.5m
Currently lying second in the Race to Dubai rankings behind Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, Fleetwood has had a string of great results in 2017 that make him one of the favourites for this event. This year’s Abu Dhabi Champion finished second in the WGC Mexico to Dustin Johnson and picked up another runner-up at the Shenzhen International, which was the last tournament he played in prior to this one.
Branden Grace: Fantasy Price £14m
Excluding one missed cut and one WD, Branden Grace hadn’t been outside of the top 40 in 2017 until the Players Championship (where he was T48). That includes back-to-back T10 and T11 finishes at the end of April. He didn’t play at Wentworth in 2016, but was T11 in 2015 and will be looking to go a few better.
Justin Rose: Fantasy Price £14.5m
Rose’s form has curbed slightly following his near-miss at the Masters, but we’d be wary betting against a major champion who already had two T2 and two T4 in eight starts earlier in the season. He and Stenson missed the cut in the Zurich Classic pairs event and he ended up T65 at the Players Champion, but Rose may be inspired being back on home soil – especially when 5 of the last 10 victories in this Championship have come from an English player.
Tyrrell Hatton: Fantasy Price £13.5m
Early on in the season you wouldn’t have bet against Hatton, who finished T4 at both the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational and 10th at the WGC Mexico. He struggled during his first Masters and missed the cut, but in his last two strokeplay events he has gone T29-T41, so he may be an outside bet to do well this week.
Alex Noren: Fantasy Price £13m
Playing a lot in the US the past couple of months, Noren comes in to the BMW PGA Championship off the back of 10th place at the Players Championship. Prior to that he was tied for 5th at the WGC Mexico and led the field at Wells Fargo going in to the fourth round, and despite a disappointing T31 finish, Noren has clearly regained some of the form that led him to three European Tour victories in 2016.
Francesco Molinari: Fantasy Price £12m
Molinari has been a reinvigorated player in 2017. He was T6 at the Players and had a great look at both Wells Fargo and the RBC Heritage, finishing T24 and T22 respectively (he led Wells Fargo after round 1). He was also T7 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T33 at the Masters – and we reckon he’s got a good chance of being the third Italian to win the BMW PGA Championship title.
Martin Kaymer: Fantasy Price £11.5m
Kaymer slightly underperformed at The Players, ending up T69 for his worst finish this year, but the former major and Ryder Cup Champion was T16 at the Masters and hasn’t missed a cut in 2017.
Chris Wood: Fantasy Price £11m
The defending champion comes in to the event with a T4 finish at the Volvo China Open, but despite being in-form he will be turning to a completely revamped Wentworth west course. In seven starts he hasn’t finished worse than T54 – which was at the Masters. Other than that he has had two top 20s and a top 5, and is in a good position to defend what was his third European Tour title.
Thomas Pieters: Fantasy Price £11.5m
It’s been a very mixed season for Thomas Pieters, but he’s had a few weeks off and will be back ready to compete. He finished T4 at the Masters before missing the cut in the pairs Zurich Classic two weeks later, but that seems to have been the order of his year. His last seven results? Cut -T4- T30- Cut- T5- Cut- T2. Given that a missed cut seems to be followed by a good result, we reckon this tournament may set up well for Pieters.
Thorbjorn Olesen: Fantasy Price £9m
Olesen won the inagural GolfSixes for Denmark with Lucas Bjerregaard last month, and has had one other top 10 in his last three events – and as he hasn’t missed a cut in 2017 he’s a pretty good bet for £9m in our Fantasy Game.
James Morrison: Fantasy Price £7.5m
In eight starts James Morrison has had a top 5, a top 10 and hasn’t been worse than T31 – and yet is still looking for his first victory since 2015. He finished T49 here last year and T11 in 2015, so he certainly knows Wentworth and we reckon for the price in our Fantasy Game – he’ll definitely be in our picks.
Wentworth West Course: Course Channges
The West is a par 72 course, this week playing 7,267 yards – but it is an almost entirely different course than the one Chris Wood claimed his title at last year.
In its attempt to get the course closer to the originally intended design, 29 bunkers were completely removed and the rest were redesigned and reconstructed.
Four greens – the 8th, 11th, 14th and 16th were completely rebuilt while the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 13th and 15th greens were partially rebuilt. In addition to reconstruction, all 18 greens were stripped of their old turf and reseeded.
There was also a sub-air system put into the greens which will dry them out and enable them to go back to a firm and faster surface.
“We listened long and hard to the views of the Tour players.” said Thomas Bjorn. “You have to when you have such a big event on a traditional golf course with so much history.”
“The BMW PGA Championship is a fantastic event, one of the best in the world, and now there is a golf course here which is really worth playing, and which is right up there with the very high standard of the event.”