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Monday, 21 May 2012
Record Crowds flock to Wentworth  (Getty Images)
Record Crowds flock to Wentworth (Getty Images)

The stage is set. The players are in position. It’s showtime as The European Tour gets set to deliver its biggest performance of the year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, where the world’s top three players – Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood – will play the leading roles.

Having dominated the summit of the Official World Golf Ranking since Westwood deposed Tiger Woods in October 2010, The European Tour’s elite are set for an enthralling battle over the famous West Course at Wentworth Club.

Westwood, then Martin Kaymer, Donald and McIlroy have all taken on the mantle of ‘best in the business’ over the past 19 months, with McIlroy the current incumbent following an astonishing run of consistency during which time he has won three times and finished in the top five on nine other occasions in the space of just 16 events.

Donald, of course, shot down Westwood in a sudden-death play-off at Wentworth Club 12 months ago in the “Duel on the West” to take the Number One spot that he held onto for 40 weeks before he and McIlroy swapped positions twice since the end of February.

Donald will be certain of a return to the top of the pile if he can defend his title this week, while a Westwood victory would take him to within touching distance of US Open Champion McIlroy, who will be hoping to improve upon his best career best finish of fifth place (2009) in the Championship in order to defend his position.

While the three main protagonists do battle for world supremacy, the supporting cast is littered with men capable of producing career-defining performances.

From the baby-faced assassins of the Tour’s next generation – players like Matteo Manassero, Tom Lewis and Branden Grace – to the veteran gunslingers led by the likes of Open Champion Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Colin Montgomeire; the BMW PGA Championship carries a truly all-star cast.

Sandwiched between the Championship’s youngest (Manassero, aged 19) and oldest (Montgomerie and Jiménez, both aged 48) participants is one of the most talented generations of European Tour players in history with players such as Thomas Björn, Peter Hanson, Padraig Harrington, Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel adding their own formidable career records to the depth of talent on display at the €4.5 million event.

With a total of 15 Major Champions and 29 Ryder Cup players in the field, golf fans can feast their eyes upon so many of the games great names over four mouth-watering days of competition at Wentworth Club.

There can be fewer more appropriate settings to stage such the Tour’s flagship event than the West Course, the location of The European Tour’s headquarters and the stage for so many unforgettable European Tour moments from past PGA Championships to World Match Play Championships.

The stage is set, so let the show begin.

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