BMW PGA Championship Preview: Hovland, Mcllroy and Rahm lead the way
By Bryan NicholsonLatest Golf Odds
12 September 2023
The European Tour’s flagship event takes on more importance this year as it facilitates the warm-up for team Europe and the Ryder Cup. The European stars had practice rounds on Monday at Marco Simone GC and flew into Wentworth on Tuesday morning. This makes for an interesting betting market.
Leading the market itself is FedEx Cup champ Victor Hovland at 8.4, with Rory McIlroy 9.8 and Jon Rahm 9.8 tucked in firmly behind. The top echelon of the market is covered by much of the European Ryder Cup side while Tom Kim, Min Woo Lee and 2021 champion Billy Horschel are doing their best to infiltrate the head of the betting. Two Ryder Cup Europe team members, Shane Lowry and Tyrell Hatton, are the last two Wentworth champions either side of Horschel.
It’s horses for courses at Wentworth which is a par 72 playing around 7,267 yards. It’s like marmite among the tour pros where some love it and some hate it but after a full redesign over recent years headed by Ernie Els that included a sub-air system being installed on the greens, it’s a much fairer test. Wentworth is a cross between heathland, woodland, and parkland terrain. New plants and trees have been added around the course and wispy fescues and water await the errant ball in spots.
Wentworth West course is a ball strikers paradise where shaping shots both ways through the woodlands, the valleys and the elevation changes are the requirement. Greens are severely elevated and guarded by run offs and deep bunkers. The premium is firmly on approach shots with the mid to long irons here – a feat demonstrated brilliantly by Benny An with his victory at the European Tour’s HQ. An led both the driving distance and Greens in Regulation percentage stats when winning at the BMW PGA Championship in 2015. Shane Lowry 23.0 edged out Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy here last year. He hit an outstanding clip of 90% greens in regulation in what played out as a 54-hole event.
He came close to winning the BMW PGA Championship in 2020 where he demonstrated a strong course fit and has a score of 8.6 from my model for Wentworth. Perez was 16th in approach in 2022 showing his iron prowess when in form and was t11 in the Czech Republic a few weeks back in what’s been an in and out season for the Frenchman. Perez will be another guy that was overlooked for Team Europe and keen to impress.
Three rounds of 68 here last year for a t13 finish. He posted a t16 last week off the back of two low rounds in Crans that secured the Italian another top 15 finish. The multiple European Tour winner is a lover of this type of golfing terrain and has a close call to his name on the Brabazon at the Belfry which is not too dissimilar a track to Wentworth. He’s won at Karen CC and Le Golf National amongst other places and rates 8.67 out of 10 on my progressive form model.
Forrest has been finding a bit of form as we approach the season’s close. The Scotsman has recorded four top 30 finishes in his last handful of events, culminating in a 3rd place in Ireland where he shot four rounds of 70 or better. That adds to a recent 11th in the Scottish Open and 8th place finish at the KLM Open. He’s 23rd in driving distance for the season and has an average finishing position circa 40th across three outings at the BMW PGA Championship. Forrest grabbed his maiden tour victory with an impressive display at the Hero Open in 2021. Interestingly, he just pipped James Morrison who has some good hidden form at Wentworth.