Frazzled looks at the BMW PGA Championship and has a number of bets in what is a disappointing turnout for the supposed flagship event on the PGA Tour.
This is the 62nd edition of the BMW PGA Championship, but to be honest, the event seems to be rapidly losing its lustre. It is the first stop of the European Tour season in the UK and only the 3rd event to be played in Europe, but the field is very disappointing this year, with names such as Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia all missing, while the big name South Africans have also decided against playing the event this year.
The PGA Championship has been in existence since 1972 and Wentworth has been its home ever since it moved there in 1984. The Harry Colt design underwent a huge amount of changes under the guidance of Ernie Els in 2006 and again in 2009/10. The green complexes were remodelled, bunkering was deepened and the hugely controversial stream was put in front of the 18th green.
Ernie received a huge amount of criticism in 2010 when the remodelled course was played for the first time and as a result, further changes were made, which in my opinion enhanced the course, especially the closing hole, but it clearly does not suit many of the top European players and further changes are intended to be made after this year's event.
The West course measures 7,302 yards and plays to a Par 72. It is a flat tree lined course consisting of twisty fairways and numerous doglegs. The fairways are quite generous and the landing areas do lend themselves to attacking play from the tee. However position off the tee is vitally important and this is a course that demands that a player shapes the ball both ways in order to leave himself in a position to attack the greens with the approach shots.
The other really significant feature of Wentworth is the swirling wind and being able to play in the wind is vitally important this week. The players will be provided with a wind map but the nature of the breeze at this venue means that this may be of limited use. A player could be playing his shot in relatively still calm conditions, protected by trees but what meets the ball on its journey to the hole could be completely different.
This course is a supreme test of ball striking and while driving accuracy may not be as vital as shaping the ball, finding greens in regulation (“GIR”) will be very important. In addition course experience is important here, despite the fact that Byeong Hun An tore the course apart on his debut last year. He is only the 3rd ever debut winner and it was a special performance by him which is hard to readily see repeated, certainly by any of the players teeing it up for the first time. Course form stands up very well at this venue, so unlike Colonial, where experience (good or bad) is vital, positive course experience is something to look at very closely when picking players this week.
Form on other tree lined venues that are affected by the wind is also a good guide to Wentworth and both Valderrama (host of the Volvo Masters 2002-2006 and more recently the Andalucia Masters) and Palais Royal (host of the Trophee Hassan) can be used as a guide to this week.
We have had our moan about the quality, so I guess we better go about finding the winner of the event now.
Francesco Molinari is very popular this week as he has a very good course record and showed that he is returning to something like his best with an excellent 7th in The Players Championship. However while his course form reads 4 Top 10s in a row, he cannot compare with the Luke Donald form of 2 wins, a 2nd and 2 3rd places in the past 10 years and a 7th place is also on his 10 year CV. Molinari is shorter in the betting as well and is passed over given how hard he finds winning.
Luke has also shown that he is slowly returning to something like his best form with a 22nd in the Valspar Championship, runner up in the RBC Heritage and then 13th in the Valero Texas Open. He has had two poor events since then and is still well short of being the player that he was when he headed the World Rankings, but he is 25/1 in a relatively poor field this week, on a course that he loves and with his game showing much more positive signs that it has for a while. He is worth a bet at these odds with 6 places being paid each way by Stan James.
Luiten is our second bet this week and his price looks to be much bigger as a result of a few quiet weeks at the China Open and last week at The K Club. Prior to those events, he was runner up in the Shenzhen International and the Open De Espana and he has also been 5th in Abu Dhabi, 6th in Thailand and 8th in Dubai this season. Importantly he has also shown plenty of form at this venue with a 17th placing in 2010 and then finishes of 12th in 2014 and 11th last year. Luiten still has eyes on a Ryder Cup spot and is probably in a similar position to Rafa Cabrera Bello at this stage. However he has better course form than the Spaniard and is also a bigger price this week. At 40/1 with Ladbrokes, he is worth an interest.
Jaidee has been plying his trade in the States for the past number of months and the Thai veteran is likely to welcome being back on some familiar courses where he has performed with great credit in the past. He had shown some decent form earlier in the year when 9th in the Nedbank Challenge and he performed ok in some of the US events, such as a 33rd in the Houston Open. However this is more his level and he might be inspired by the return to a venue where he was 2nd last year and has also had finished of 8th, 11th and 13th in the past. He was excellent with his irons last year in this event and he clearly can read this difficult greens, ranking highly in the putting categories (7th PPG and 2nd PPR).
With many of the big guns missing this year, he looks a decent each way price at 66/1 with Boyles, even if it is only 5 places being paid each way. Alternatively 55/1 with Paddy Power, who are paying 7 places, may appeal more to some.
We are also going to do a patent on the 3 picks as they lend themselves to betting them in a multiple. All bets are outlined below.
1.5 points each way Luke Donald at 25/1 with Stan James (1/4 odds 6 places)
1 point each way Joost Luiten at 40/1 each way with Ladbrokes (1/4 odds 6 places)
1 point each way Thongchai Jaidee at 55/1 each way with Paddy Power (1/5 odds 7 places)
Luke Donald - Top GB& Ireland Player at 12/1 with Bet365
Joost Luiten - Top Continental Euro at 14/1 with Bet365
Thongchai Jaidee - Top ROW player at 9/1 with Bet365