5 Things: Will McIlroy prevail at BMW PGA?
VIRGINIA WATER, England – The great and the good are assembled at Wentworth Club this week for the 4.5 million euro BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event.
Here’s what you should be looking for:
1. Will Rory live up to his No. 1 billing?
The current World No. 1 says he’s comfortable sitting atop the Official World Golf Ranking, but will he emerge top of the tree over the Wentworth West Course?
“I think that you have to believe that you’re better than anyone else,” McIlroy said. “On my day, I believe I can beat anyone in the world. It’s just a matter of going out there and showing everyone else what I believe.
“It’s hard to walk around saying ‘I’m the best’ or whatever, but you just have to believe in it and be quietly confident.”
McIlroy has yet to be best at Wentworth in four appearances in the European Tour’s most prestigious tournament. He missed the cut on his debut in 2008. He finished fifth in 2009, and then slid to 48th two years ago and 24th last year.
Will this be his year?
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2. Will there be complaints about the golf course?
Ernie Els has taken it in the neck the last two years for radical changes to Harry Colt’s West Course. So much so that Els has had to go back to the drawing board twice to make alterations. So far, the pros seem happy with the changes. “I really like the changes they have made,” McIlroy said.
Neither he nor anyone else has played a competitive round yet. Watch this space.
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3. Will Lee Westwood go one better this year?
England's Westwood lost in a playoff to countryman Luke Donald last year when his wedge approach shot spun into the water on the 18th hole. However, deep down he knows he should have won the tournament in regulation.
“It really shouldn’t have gone to a playoff last year, if I am being critical of myself,” Westwood said. “I three-putted 16 and didn’t birdie 17 going in with a 3-iron and had a 5-footer at the last for birdie and missed. So I had my chances. It was my own fault.”
Westwood is second favorite at 11/1 behind Donald. He also finished second in 2000 and has two other top 10s. He is expected to be in the mix come Sunday.
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4. The winning score will be lower than last year's.
The course plays as a par 72 again this year, after playing one shot less last year. The European Tour has changed the 12th back into a par 5, so expect the winning score to be at least 10 under par as opposed to 6 under last year.
“I like that they have turned 12 back into a par 5,” McIlroy said. “You’ll see the winning score into the double digits, which I think is much better.”
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5. How will the club pros do?
Like the PGA Championship, the European equivalent reserves spots for club pros off of national/regional orders of merit. Ten qualify to play with Europe’s elite every year. Few make the cut, but there are always a couple who slip through.
This year’s field includes Scotland’s David Patrick, who played in the 1999 Walker Cup at Nairn. Also in the draw are former fringe European Tour players Simon Lilly, David Higgins, Paul Streeter and Greig Hutcheon. My money is on one of them playing all 72 holes.