It’s here! The European Tour’s flagship event, and the only event to still be hosted in England. I did not get involved in the European Tour last week, with the Volvo Match Play and Madeira Islands being the events to choose from, and this week I will certainly look to further improve on my profit this season. With my biggest week in terms of profit coming on the European Tour I really do hope I can have another good week, at a tournament I particularly enjoy.
The BMW Championship is a tournament that has seen some world class players over the years, with Europe’s best coming together to play at a course with such a big reputation, Wentworth Golf Club. Luke Donald will be going for a hat-trick of wins and match Colin Montgomerie’s Wentworth record of three consecutive wins, after Monty won 1998,1999,2000. Donald came 2nd in 2010, before going on to win in both 2011 and 2012, so course form looks important this week. Another recent multiple winner, is Denmark’s Anders Hansen who won first in 2001, and again six years later in 2007. His last three visits haven’t been as impressive, missed the cut last year, T18 in 2011 and finished T71 in 2010, so he is going have to prove himself once again. Hansen is available at 80/1 if you think he can find his form at Wentworth yet again. Apart from the obvious domination from Montgomerie and Donald in recent times, there have been some surprise winners on the list, with Simon Khan getting just his 2nd win of his career in 2010 and Scott Drummond getting his only European Tour win in 2004. Ignacio Garrigo is another winner (2003) who came as a surprise, so it’s not as clear cut as it may seem when looking for a winner this week. Bearing that in mind I will give you some more information on the course itself and how defending champion Luke Donald got the job done, for the second time.
The Course: Wentworth Club, Par 72, 7302 yds. Wentworth is one of Britain’s stand out courses, in terms of reputation, hosting one of the bigger events of the year. The course has been revamped, with all the green complexes being remodelled in 2009/10 and the greens now have all new contours. The bunkers have had much attention and the fairway bunker on the left hand side of six, and run off area of 16 has been removed since the event last year. Accuracy off the tee may be preferred to length here, and being able to cope with windy conditions may well be a factor this week. Look for Greens in Regulation and Driving Accuracy this week for players you fancy and this could be a course the player you’re looking at will enjoy. Patience will be key here this week, and although scoring has been low in the past it has been infrequent so playing smart, steady golf will help here.
Defending Champion: Luke Donald. Luke has bossed this course since coming 2nd in 2010, following it up with two consecutive wins, and looking to match Montgomerie’s record of three in a row. Donald hasn’t quite been at his best yet this season, with his putting coming into the spotlight especially. This shouldn’t be enough to put anyone off him this week, he obviously has a fantastic chance, with the perfect skill set for the course, which he’s already proved over the last three outings. He is the 8/1 favourite, but with good reasoning and it’s not a price you can argue with. Anything in double figures I would of got on at, but with some many other potential winners I’m happy to leave him out at his single figure odds. His approach play and all round short game is absolutely superb and it can click any week for Luke, and this week will certainly the most obvious chance of it all coming together.
This is the week I’ve been looking forward to on the European Tour all season and I feel really good about my picks this week, with such good odds available in my opinion. I am going to be taking on the British contingent at the head of the betting in hope of exploiting some terrific value, and I hope I can help some of you out. I will be there on Sunday to see who takes gets their hands on the trophy, and let’s hope it’s one from the list below. Here are my picks for the 2013 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Branden Grace 50/1 (Bet365, BetFred) 1pt e/w: Grace is only 25 years of age and already has four European Tour victories to his name. Yes all of his victories came last year, in what can only be described as “the ultimate breakthrough season” but Grace has proved, even since then that he is a top player, ready to compete with the worlds best. Grace started his year with three top 10’s in January, T7, 5 and T6 and since then has placed T18 in the Masters and T3 in last week’s match play event. Grace did play in his first Players’ Championship two weeks ago, where he made the cut, but finished the week with a disappointing 77 in round 4. On top of all of this Grace finished 5th on his first attempt at Wentworth last year, going over par in just one round (round 3). I am really keen on Grace this week, despite him not meeting the criteria of Greens in Regulation and Driving Accuracy. He managed to get round in some fashion last year and I’d be surprised if he didn’t go well again this week, especially after such a good performance in Bulgaria. 50/1 is a great price for the South African and one that cannot be ignored.
Paul Lawrie 66/1 (Coral 1-5) 60/1 (General 6 places) 1pt e/w: Lawrie loves Wentworth, and will return here this year, off the back of his 2nd best finish of the year T14 at the Volvo China Open. Form figures at Wentworth of 4, missed cut, T6 and 32 so he definitely knows how to go well here, and the finish in China last time out certainly gives me confidence he can go well yet again. Lawrie is 17th in Greens in Regulation this season and that will be a big part of his chances this week. If he can find his putting this week, he should be bang in contention and let’s hope he does! Lawrie won twice on tour last season, so that winning feeling has not left him just yet, and being a big part of the winning Ryder Cup team in Medinah beating Brandt Snedeker 5&3 on the Sunday he knows he can still get the job done. Brits do well here, as expected at Wentworth and I’m happy to take Lawrie at around 60’s to take on the favourites.
Matteo Manassero 66/1 (BoyleSports, Stanjames, Coral) 1pt e.w: When mentioning Branden Grace above, I said he was only 25 years old, well Matteo Manassero is only 20. Being the same age as Manaserro it really does make me realise just how well this guy has done since being on tour, he has had a win a year between 2010-2012 and he will be keen to keep that trend going in 2013. Having won 3 titles on the European Tour at such a young age Manassero seems to be of been in the spotlight forever, and going back to 2011 I remember following him around two or three holes and being in absolute awe of his play. Although he opened the week with a 66, he ended it with a 75, which saw him fall to a final position of T7, still extremely impressive for an 18 year old. He is the first teenager to make it to three European Tour victories and I can’t see any signs of him fading away, I see him just going from strength to strength. His length off the tee is often a big talking point of his game, and possibly he can build on that in the future, but for the time being he is getting on pretty well as he is and this course doesn’t particularly reward big hitters, as highlighted by Luke Donald’s recent dominance. Apart from that T7 in 2011 I previously mentioned, Manaserro has finished T43 in 2012 and T9 in 2010 so he seems to know his way around the track and hopefully he can prove that here again. He is 29th in Driving Accuracy and 64th in Greens in Regulation, so although he doesn’t stand out in either, you can see that he’s not struggling in either department. He has finished in the top 25 in every event except the WGC Match Play and the Masters, so he is in decent form coming into the week, and is coming off the back of a T16 at the Open De Espana. Manassero has all the credentials to win this week, and I was a bit surprised to see him at 66/1 considering he has been as small as 16s this season, the Italian is definitely worth a bet here at Wentworth.
Thomas Aiken 100/1 (StanJames & WilliamHill) 1pt e/w: Aiken is a winner already this season, and on top of that showed great form in the match play last week, finishing T3. Apart from those two results, he also has finishes of T6, T12 and T11, so an impressive season so far. Aiken has finishes of 39, T17 and 10th at Wentworth in the last five years and although he missed the cut last year, I fully expect him to perform here this week. He should be full of confidence after getting his second European Tour victory at the Avantha Masters, and buoyed by last week’s effort in Bulgaria. Aiken is 18th in Driving Accuracy and 10th in Greens in Regulation, which fits the bill perfectly in terms of figures for the week and hopefully he can perform to and possibly beyond his current standard. South African golf has been booming in the last year or so, with not only Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel last season and another Major win for Ernie Els, but George Coetzee, Jaco Van Zyl, Garth Mulroy and Richard Sterne have all put in some excellent performances since this event last season. Another South African, Darren Fichardt has also come back from injury and got himself in the winners circle this year, and each win only from a fellow native only seems to inspire each player, just look at Brett Rumford after Adam Scott’s win at the Masters! I thought three-figure odds on a player who made it to the semis of the match play last week, and is already a winner this year was very generous and with some previous form at the course he really is worth a look this week.
Total Points Staked on European Tour this week: 8
Total Points Staked this week (inc PGA Tour): 20
Profit/Loss for 2013: +42
This concludes my tips this week, and as you might of noticed I am particularly excited about this week. Not just from a betting point of view, but I really enjoy watching both of these events, and I am lucky enough to be attending Wentworth on Sunday. Hope you all enjoy the week, and will be good to see some people get involved with my tips this week. All bookies this week except Coral are paying 6 places at this event so a place is definitely the aim this week! You can follow me on Twitter @TomJacobs8