Its finally time in the European schedule for my favourite event of the year and an opportunity for its long standing host venue The Wentworth Club, to showcase its glorious West Course in its very best condition.
This event has traditionally been played in May, however the schedule change has now allowed the event to be played in September, allowing not only for an even better presented course but also a very much welcomed opportunity to host this event with an even stronger field.
Loads of big names will be featuring this week and I thinks its fair to say this weeks field at Wentowth will be one of the strongest we have seen for years and will be a much better spectator experience than what is being offered by the PGA Tour this week… Just such a shame the idiots at DraftKings couldn’t work this out and offer us contests worthy of such a big event.
Unfortunately this year due to my own tournament commitments I haven’t been able to attend the practice days as I normally would, however rest assured I know this venue better than anything out there and as always have put in some deep research in hope to find that edge.
I will be attending the tournament over the next two days so if anyone wants/needs a little more info feel free to contact me through twitter (@AshleyMorrisson) and ill try my best to get that info you desire.
Course/Event Preview & Key Stats
Venue – Wentworth (West Course)
Location – Virginia Water, Surrey, England.
Style – Traditional Old English, Tree-lined Gem
Par – 72
Yardage – 7,284
Architect – Harry Colt (1926 original design). Ernie Els (2009 redesign). Ernie Els and European Golf Design (2016 redesign)
Event – The PGA Championship has been a firm constant on the European Tour since its conception in 1972 and over its entire history this will now be the 65th staging of this highly regarded event.
Greens: Creeping Bentgrass with sub-air system. Expected to run at 11’6″ and extremely pure. Moderate in size with good undulations and tiers that allow pins to be tucked in less accessible locations
Fairways: Blend of Bentgrass, Fescue and Poa Annua, exceptionally well maintained. Should be running firmer and faster than previous years due to lack of natural rainfall and later appearance of this event in the season.
Rough: Mix of Rye and Fescue. There aren’t many areas on the course where players will find patches of deep rough. The majority of the rough on the course is maintained but lush and sticky.
Previous winners and runners up in last 10 years:
Off the Tee – Its all about getting the ball in position and hitting the tee shots the course asks of you. Players will need to be able to work the ball both ways and at all costs avoid the huge miss. A bomber or a short knocker can play equally well here, but due to the firmer conditions I believe accuracy will be more influencial than it has been in previous years.
Approach Play – This course really is a ball strikers paradise. The fairways are gorgeous to play from, the shots easy to picture and it presents an opportunity for the creative to use the contouring to their advantage. GIR and SG approach will be something I factor in very heavily this week. Obviously hitting greens offers more birdie chances on these super pure greens but possibly just as important it heavily reduces the risk of big numbers and over-utilisation of our next key stat.
Scrambling – This is a huge stat this week. Missing greens at Wentworths West Course is inevitable, however getting the ball up and down is far from a gaurantee. We have seen from multiple past winners and those that have contended that a great/fantastic short game is an absolute must
Putting – These greens are simply stunning and the investment of a sub-air system very similar to that at Augusta, has paid off big time. Players will be heavily tested by the contouring and if putting from the wrong location its very easy to let the ball get away from you and be tested by a longer than anticipated return putt for par. With that being said and everything above I’m not actually that concerned about putting stats this week. Id much rather a player who was considered an average putter and created opportunities from the right side of the hole than have a great putter who is going to be heavily tested by not finding the right locations.
Course Form and Recent Form – Always factored in and no different this week.
Other Factors – There is plenty of varied reasons for players to find that extra motivation to perform well this week. Be it as simple as winning one of the most prestigious events on the European Tour, picking up the big pay day on offer as a Rolex Series Event, improving position in the Race to Dubai rankings, holding on to a very precious tour card or starting this week earning Ryder Cup ranking points to be automatically included in the team heading to Wisconsin this time next year.
European Tour DraftKings Picks
Rory McIlroy $11,900 – No description or reason to play really needed. In top form he’s the best in the field and even with that hefty price tag, with a win attached worth paying up every $.
Paul Casey $10,700 – Coming into this week off the back of a 5th at the Tour Champs and a win two weeks ago at the Porsche European Open I really like where Casey’s game is right now. I also love the fact that he is ultra motivated to participate in the Olympics and improving his world ranking will get him that opportunity he wants most.
Henrik Stenson $9,700 – One of the best ball strikers in the game and when hot scores those all important DraftKings points at an incredible rate. Has been showing signs of finding that extra gear again and with the added motivations on offer, on a course he has all the attributes for. I think the Iceman could be on for a great week.
Victor Hovland $9,200 – Personally I cant wit to see this future superstar play in person. As I’m sure you know his consistency and scoring is already sensational and there is no reason why he wont be able to continue this form and start his hunt for a Ryder Cup spot in style.
Matt Wallace $9,100 – Not that Matt needs any more confidence but after those last 3 rounds last week he has to be coming into this week with added belief his game is in the perfect place to take down this strong field.
Eric Van Rooyen $8,700 – What I saw of EVR here last year in both practice and tournament play was very impressive. The way he plays the game from tee to green was ideal for the layout and maybe with the added experience and confidence from a win and solid run of form he can improve upon his top 20 placing in his first attempt here.
Matthias Schwab $8,200 – This will be his first visit to Wentworth but coming into the event with extremely good form (T5, T8 and T2 in his last 3 outings). Statistically a superb fit for this course ranking 2nd in scrambling and 21st in SG Tee to Green.
Mike Lorenzo-Vera $7,900 – Becoming a bit of a stable pick and feature player for the write up and serving us very well, with 4 top 10’s in his last 6 starts. If consistency is key then Im happy to ignore the course form and side with playing ability and current form.
Alexander Bjork 7,400 – One of first picks for cash games this week. Both form and course history suggest at worst another steady performance and hopefully an improvement on his best here so far of 14th two years ago.
Sam Horsfield $7,200 – Like EVR I was very impressed with how Sam took on the West Course last year. In better form coming into the event this year and more tournament experience in front of home crowds. I would be very happy with a similar T15 placing, especially at this price and projected ownership
Steven Brown $6,100 – Not many players other than maybe Ernie will know this course better than Steven. He grew up playing the Wentworth courses and still holds membership here now. Pressure is always greater when playing at home but hopefully confidence from a T15 finish last week will carry him through to weekend and point scoring that well surpasses his price tag.
- Other inclusions in player pool – Billy Horschel $8,300, Alexander Bjork $7,300, Paul Waring $7,100.
European Tour Betting Tips
- Henrik Stenson 22/1, 1point e/w
- Victor Hovland 28/1, 1 point e/w
- Matthias Schwab 50/1, 1 point e/w