Our team on the ground at Wentworth Club takes you behind the scenes of The European Tour’s Flagship Event, the BMW PGA Championship…
Cool Kaymer talks the talk
Martin Kaymer was his usual charming self before, during and after his preview press conference on Tuesday afternoon, when the German touched on subjects ranging from go-karting to snowboarding to the Champions League Final in Munich, which he attended over the weekend. Despite being an avid FC Cologne fan Kaymer was rooting for Bayern Munich, and was as disappointed as the next man in the Allianz Arena when Chelsea prevailed on penalties. After a relaxing day on Sunday, Kaymer hopped in his car – a BMW, naturally – on Monday morning and made the long journey to Surrey via Calais, where he caught the Euro Tunnel to Folkestone. A well-travelled individual, Kaymer also revealed he was travelling to San Francisco a week prior to the start of the US Open to check out Alcatraz. Not only does he conduct himself impeccably on the course, Herr Kaymer also has a refreshing approach to life away from the fairways.
Donald at the double?
Spectators will be hoping lightning strikes twice at this week’s BMW PGA Championship. Not in a literal sense, of course – the forecast for the week is highly encouraging – but a finish like last year’s would be most welcome. Compatriots Lee Donald and Luke Westwood went head to head in a thrilling play-off for the title and the right to be crowned the world’s best player, with the former prevailing in the ‘Duel on the West’ to ascend to the summit of the World Ranking. This year, Donald returns to defend his title as the World Number Two, having been usurped by the young gunslinger Rory McIlroy. But with very little between the two at the top of the Ranking, an eighth place finish or better for Donald could see him regain his place at the head of the table. Let battle re-commence.
There’s never a good time for injury to strike, but Simon Dyson must be cursing his luck after having to withdraw from The European Tour’s Flagship Event. With a prize pot of €4.5million and considerable Ryder Cup points up for grabs at Wentworth Club, Dyson could have done without picking up a hip injury. The gritty Yorkshireman Dyson is yet to test himself in the rarefied atmosphere of The Ryder Cup but, with a 100% record in team competition from three appearances in the Vivendi Seve Trophy and one in the Royal Trophy, Dyson’s battling qualities would surely be a welcome addition to José María Olazábal’s European Team at Medinah Country Club in September. But one man’s loss is another man’s gain, as Italian Federico Colombo takes his place in this week’s 150-man field. Get well soon Simon, and best of luck Federico!
There have been a few tweaks to the West Course since the last time the BMW bandwagon rolled into town, which should guarantee yet more drama this week. The most significant change is at the 12th hole, which has been changed back from a par four to a par five. Graeme McDowell, for one, is wholly in favour of the change, saying: “I’m really pleased to see it returned to its former glory as a par five, because it’s a classic hole. If you get your drive away you can go for the green in two and hope to walk off with an eagle, but there’s also trouble down the left hand side which you need to be very wary of. When you picture the World Match Play Championship being staged at the West Course down the years, you think of holes like the 12th which used to create such drama. The re-designed green is quite severe, which lends itself more to a par five than a par four. It’ll be difficult to hold a long iron, so most players will probably lay up in two and try to flick a wedge in there close. It was a very difficult par four, so it’s great to see its character restored.” The landing area on the 18th fairway has also been extended and levelled, which should encourage more players to go for the green in two. Watch out for some final day fireworks.