VIRGINIA WATER, England – Maybe we shouldn’t expect Martin Kaymer to add the BMW PGA Championship to the Players Championship he won two weeks ago. Or maybe it will be a case of beware the jaded golfer?
The German enters the European Tour’s flagship event over Wentworth Golf Club’s West Course running on fumes after six tournaments in his last seven weeks. Maybe the €4.75 million event offering loads of Ryder Cup points will spur him on.
Kaymer’s Sawgrass victory moved him into the last Ryder Cup spot on the European Tour’s world points list. With a first place prize of €791,660 on offer this week, and plenty of world rankings points, victory this week could practically seal his Ryder Cup place.
Kaymer wasn’t talking up his chances in his pre-tournament interview. “Physically I feel fit, but the win at the Players took a lot out of me,” he admitted.
“There’s not much you can do. You can just try to rest and just go through it. I know I have the next two weeks off, so I will try everything I have left. I’ve played enough golf, it is just about resting and trying to be ready on Thursday morning.”
Kaymer’s best finish in this event is joint 11th in 2009. He also has two top-16 finishes. Maybe he’s not a good bet to add this tournament to his list of achievements.
Matteo Manassero arrives as defending champion. Odds on him repeating are long, though. He’s listed as a 50/1 shot with British bookmakers William Hill.
The young Italian didn’t push on last year after defeating Scotland’s Marc Warren and 2010 champion Simon Khan in a playoff. In fact, he went backward. He posted a T-4 finish in the next week’s Nordea Masters and then didn’t finish better than 21st for the rest of the year.
Manassero’s best finish this season is 10th in the Volvo Golf Champions. He hasn’t finished inside the top 20 in his other eight starts.
“I was definitely a little bit disappointed,” he said about the rest of last season. “The scores weren’t that good but, especially throughout the summer and towards the end of the year, I was struggling with my swing.
“It was more than disappointing: frustrating, let’s put it that way.”
Don’t expect the man from Milan to defend the title as Luke Donald did two years ago.
A lot of attention this week will be on Sweden’s Jonas Blixt after his Masters exploits. The 30-year-old joined countrymen Jesper Parnevik, Niclas Fasth and Henrik Stenson as a major runner-up. No Swedish male has ever won one of the four tournaments that matter most.
While this week’s event cannot be considered anywhere near a major, it is the European Tour’s flagship event. Blixt would love to do well to help his cause of making the European Ryder Cup team.
The former Florida State player set his schedule this year with a view to making his first appearance in a European team. He is 16th on the European points list and 19th on the world points list. A good showing here would help his cause greatly.
Blixt’s problem is he’s never seen the golf course before. In fact, he has no memories of watching coverage of the tournament.
“The name Wentworth, it’s always been special to any kind of golfer,” Blixt said. “So I’m really looking forward just to playing the golf course.”
High on Blixt’s agenda was meeting European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley for the first time. That might be the highlight of his week.