The BMW PGA Championship began with a celebration of the greatest year in the history of The European Tour and ended by showcasing The European Tour in all its glory.
The Players’ Awards Dinner on Tuesday night appluaded the four Major Championship successes of the last 12 months, the Ryder Cup success and the dominance of European Tour players on the Official World Ranking. Those celebrations will continue after a truly memorable BMW PGA Championship when a record 93,404 spectators flocked through the gates at Wentworth Club to witness the greatest golfers in action.
At the top of the tree are Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. There was almost nothing separating the two Englishmen at the start of the week in the Official World Ranking and they duly finished the regulation 72 holes neck and neck, nothing at all separating the two best players in the world as they battled for the greatest prize on The European Tour on a course that challenged and ultimately delivered the cream to the top.
Both knew at the start of the week that whoever finished the highest would be the World Number One and Westwood did not give up his crown lightly, a final round of 68 putting him level with Donald (70) on six under par 278. But his ball spun out of control into the water on the 18th in the first play-off hole and the stage was left to Donald to make birdie and follow in the footsteps of Sir Nick Faldo and Westwood as the only English World Number Ones.
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “We now have championship which showcases all that is great about The European Tour.
“BMW and our other sponsors help us make this as good a championship as we can possibly make it. Richard Caring and his team at Wentworth help us make a stage we can be proud off and together you’ve given us a championship everyone at The European Tour can be proud of.”
Ian Robertson, member of the board of BMW, said: “This is our seventh year as sponsor of this great championship. We also have the International Open, the Italian Open and the BMW Championship in the US but this is our flagship event. To have six of the top seven in the world and all four holders of the Major Championships was fantastic. Congratulations to Luke and also to Lee. To have the Number One and Two in the world in a play-off, with the record crowds and fantastic weather…it doesn’t get better than that.”
There was also a special tribute to the late, great Seve Ballesteros at the prize giving ceremony as the packed stands watched a short video, remembering many of the wonderful shots and highlights from the career of the golfing genius, described by O’Grady as “an inspiration, and a very special man.”