The 2019 BMW PGA Championship (BPC) takes place at Wentworth Club (West Course) in Surrey, England, this week (Sep. 19-22).
The European Tour’s flagship event had taken place in May until this year. Organizers elected to move it to September to avoid competing with the US PGA Championship, which relocated to May in 2019.
That decision will certainly be felt (in a good way) in terms of quality of competition.
These are the favorites
Once again this year, the BPC will feature a star-studded field, including defending champion, Francesco Molinari, world no. 2, Rory McIlroy, along with John Rahm, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, and Tommy Fleetwood.
Those six are all among the top-ten favorites to win the event, according to Michael Harrison of Sportsbettingdime.com.
McIlroy is the outright favorite at +550; Rahm is second at +1000; Rose and Casey are tied for third-best odds at +1400, followed by Fleetwood at +2000 and Molinari at +2500.
Burma Road (18th hole pictured at the top) is not a particularly long course (7,284 yards, currently) and rewards accuracy over distance, with fairways surrounded by forest. McIlroy, who swings a big stick, was able to win here in 2015 and came second last year, but Wentworth has also produced its fair-share of light-driving champions.
Francesco Molinari ranked 143rd in driving distance on the PGA Tour last year, while 2011 & 2012 champion Luke Donald is an even lighter hitter.
More important than distance off the tee at Wentworth is hitting greens in regulation, and being able to scramble impeccably if you don’t. As noted by Yahoo’s Dave Tindall, eight of the last 10 champions finished in the top 12 in greens in regulation (GIR), while four of the last seven winners were among the top four in scrambling.
That bodes well for McIlroy and Fleetwood. McIlroy finished 39th on the PGA Tour in GIR last year and 25th in scrambling. Fleetwood was a mediocre 87th in GIR, but 1st overall in scrambling.
Round 1 starts on Thursday, Sep. 18th, at 7:00 AM local time (2:00 AM ET). The first threesome on course will be Steven Brown, Matthieu Pavon, and Scott Jamieson. McIlroy, Molinari and 2019 Open Championship-winner Shane Lowry will tee off at 8:55 in the must-see threesome of the day.