The opening stretch at Wentworth Club's West Course is among the toughest annually on the DP World Tour. That proved itself to be true again this week at the BMW PGA Championship, as the two toughest holes on the course were numbers one and three.
Again, the Fortinet Threat Score holes played a starring role in the championship narrative.
Ryan Fox gained more than two-thirds of a stroke on the Fortinet Threat Score holes alone, helping propel him to become the first player from New Zealand to ever win the BMW PGA Championship.
For the week, Fox gained more than five and half strokes on the field with his approach play, his best single-tournament performance since tracking began on the DP World Tour several seasons ago.
His 15 greens hit in regulation on Sunday were the second-most of any player in the field.
Difficulty Rank: 1
Not only did the opening hole have the highest scoring average in relation to par on the course this week (+0.31), it featured both the toughest fairway (25%) and green (32%) to hit in regulation. The average proximity to the hole for the field here was a whopping 53 feet, also the highest number on the golf course. Putts per green in regulation followed suit, with the first green yielding an inflated average of 1.95 strokes.
Thanks to the club choice decision demanded by the opening tee shot, as well as the contours of the fairway, distance off the tee here was extremely varied. From virtually every second shot position, though, this hole was a stern test for the world’s best players.
Difficulty Rank: 2
Players didn’t get much of a breather before facing the second-toughest hole on the course, the par four third. Three played more than two-tenths of a stroke over par (+0.22), with a missed fairway inflicting a penalty of nearly half a stroke. A mere 41 percent of players found the green in regulation, the second-lowest rate on the course. Those who found the putting surface with the second shot were heavily rewarded, picking up 0.40 strokes on the competition.
Difficulty Rank: 3
The toughest hole on the back nine was the 15th, playing nearly two-tenths of a stroke over par for the week (+0.19). Power was rewarded on this 491-yard par four, as extra driving distance had the second-highest value anywhere on the course for the championship.
The average approach into this green for the week was more than 195 yards, the second-longest at Wentworth. That led to a corresponding average distance from the hole for approach shots: 40 feet, second to only the opening hole.
The three toughest holes at Wentworth were a ferocious challenge, even for the elite field competing. Only 12 players beat par this week on the Fortinet Threat Score holes, and six of the top-ten finishers in the tournament lost strokes to the field on holes 1, 3 and 15. Overall, the field was more than 300 strokes over par for the week on those three holes alone.
The leaders in strokes gained on the Fortinet Threat Score holes will be welcome news to Ryder Cup Team Europe fans: Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton each gained 5.67 strokes on the three toughest holes – tied for best of any player. Captain Luke Donald would love to see that form carry on to Rome next week.