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Friday, 11 May 2012
Rory McIlroy  (EuropeanTour)
Rory McIlroy (EuropeanTour)

A total of 14 Major Champions will descend on Wentworth Club from May 24-27 when the iconic West Course plays host to the 58th staging of The European Tour’s Flagship Event, the BMW PGA Championship.

Ireland’s quartet of Major winners will be led by World Number Two Rory McIlroy, who will be keen to bolster his collection of titles by triumphing at Wentworth Club, where his highest finish was fifth place in 2009.   

McIlroy’s close friend Graeme McDowell, the man he succeeded as US Open Champion last year, will also be bidding to take home the lion’s share of the €4.5million prize fund, as will the reigning Open Champion Darren Clarke and three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington, who finished in a tie for sixth place on his last appearance at the BMW PGA Championship in 2010.

Another man with three Major titles to his name, South African Ernie Els, will be on familiar territory when he tees up for the 17th time at the BMW PGA Championship, having overseen the renovations made to the West Course and also lived on the Wentworth Estate for several years before relocating to America.

Els has tasted success over the West Course, having won the World Match Play Championship on four occasions when it was played at the famous Surrey venue, but he is yet to capture the BMW PGA Championship title, finishing runner-up three times.

The first time was in 1994, when Els finished second behind José María Olazábal, who had recently secured his maiden Major title at the Masters Tournament.

Eighteen years on, the Spaniard will make his 24th appearance at the BMW PGA Championship, where he will also use the opportunity to cast his eye over potential Team members in his role as Europe’s current Ryder Cup Captain.  

Olazábal’s fellow former Masters Tournament champion Charl Schwartzel, who won the Green Jacket in 2011, is searching for his first victory at the BMW PGA Championship, as is his compatriot Retief Goosen, winner of the US Open Championship in 2001 and 2004. 

The same applies to three more Major Champions in the field, namely the 2005 US Open Champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand, who finished in a tie for second place behind Bernhard Langer on his BMW PGA Championship debut in 1995; World Number Eight Martin Kaymer of Germany, winner of the US PGA Championship in 2010; and the 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie, whose best performance came in 1996 when the Scot finished joint runner-up with Sir Nick Faldo behind winner Costantino Rocca.  

This year, the American duo of Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel, who succeeded his compatriot as US PGA Champion in 2003, will join the 2003 Masters Tournament winner Mike Weir of Canada in crossing the Atlantic to make their debuts at the BMW PGA Championship.

Micheel will have bitter-sweet memories of his visit to Wentworth Club in 2006 for the World Match Play Championship, where he beat then-World Number One Tiger Woods, the current Number One Luke Donald and Sweden’s Robert Karlsson en route to reaching the final, but then succumbed to a record 10&8 defeat to England’s Paul Casey.

Donald returns to Wentworth Club to defend his BMW PGA Championship title, having seen off his compatriot Lee Westwood in a dramatic play-off 12 months ago.

More than 93,000 people flocked through the gates in the tournament week last year, and once again demand for tickets will be high. Tickets are available at www.europeantour.com/tickets, or via the ticket hotline on +44 (0)800 023 2557. A limited number of tables in corporate hospitality remain for Saturday 26 May. Please email tickets@europeantour.com for further information.

Spectators who buy their tickets in advance of the tournament will be sent a car park pass to a designated car park. Please follow signs to ENTRANCE 2. Directional signage will then lead you to your car park.

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