BMW PGA Championship 2016
Round 4 - Chris Wood claims narrow victory
May 30, 2016
Chris Wood knew well enough not to take victory for granted at the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday, even when holding a four-shot lead with seven holes to play.
The back nine has bitten many players at Wentworth this week - Masters champion Danny Willett in particular - and Wood nearly joined the list, with his lead whittled down to one stroke teeing off on the last.
With his parents and fiancee standing behind the 18th green, Wood played it safe from the middle of the fairway. Two sand wedges and two putts later, the Englishman was looking to the sky and celebrating the third - and easily the biggest - victory of his career.
''I proved today that it's pretty hard to win a golf tournament,'' said Wood, who shot 3-under 69 for a 9-under 279 total, one stroke clear of Rikard Karlberg (65). ''You can't really enjoy it, to be honest.''
Not only is Wood about $930,000 richer thanks to this life-changing win, he will wake up on Monday inside the top 25 in the world and with his tour card secured through 2021. Most importantly, he is - as it stands - in an automatic qualifying place for Europe's Ryder Cup team for the match in Hazeltine starting September.
''That's the biggest thing I can take from this,'' Wood said. ''It's something I need to start getting my heard round.''
The Englishman most people expected to win this week was Willett, and the owner of the green jacket was one of 16 players to start the final round within five shots of overnight leader Scott Hend.
Willett double-bogeyed No. 3 but regrouped to shoot 71 and finish alone in third place on 7 under. At one stage on Friday afternoon, he was on 12 under and held a five-shot lead.
''There's a lot of good in there,'' said Willett, who shot 39 and 41 on the back nine this week. ''But then the bad shots around here this week have been pretty bad. Just very up and down.''
Hend will no doubt agree.
The Australian started the day with a one-stroke lead and took two shots out of a fairway bunker to make double-bogey on No. 1. He dropped nine shots in his first 10 holes to tumble down the leaderboard and wound up shooting 78, tying for 15th.
Wood's wobbles came much later. He went round the front nine in record-tying 29 thanks to four birdies and an eagle at the par-5 4th, then made another birdie at No. 11. He dropped shots on Nos. 14, 16 and 17, without - according to Wood - really playing a bad shot, but held his nerve down No. 18.
Wood never looked at a leaderboard all round.
''Such a relief,'' he said.
The 54th-ranked Wood's previous European Tour wins came in Qatar in 2013 and in Austria last year. He led the BMW PGA Championship by two shots after three rounds in 2010, only to shoot 77 to fall away.
This time, he made no mistake.
Round 3 - Late eagle gives Scott Hend lead
May 29, 2016
A lucky bounce on No. 18 helped Scott Hend preserve the lead at the BMW PGA Championship on Saturday.
There was to be no late rescue act from Danny Willett.
After a fluctuating third round that threw the European Tour's flagship event wide open, Hend led by a shot on 9-under 207 thanks to a second straight eagle on the par-5 last hole at Wentworth. The Australian's 8-iron approach landed in the light rough to the right of the green and kicked in, curling round to rest within 3 feet of the cup.
Hend made the putt for a 1-over 73 to climb back atop the leaderboard, where he started the day alongside Willett and Y.E. Yang.
''It was a nice bonus,'' said Hend, who is seeking his second victory of the year. ''I got a lucky bounce, but it was very nice.''
Willett, the Masters champion and the only top-20 player in the tournament, built a two-shot lead by birdieing the par-3 No. 5 but his round unraveled from there. He struggled to read his putts and bogeyed five of his last 10 holes to sign for a 76, tumbling to 6 under and a tie for fifth.
''It's disappointing to be somewhere there or thereabouts and then to play poor on the back nine like we did yesterday,'' the ninth-ranked Willett said. ''Off to the range and see if we can get something going for tomorrow.''
Willett no longer leads the home challenge at Wentworth, either.
That honor goes to fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who shot 66 - the lowest round of the day - to be within a shot of Hend on a course he knows very well. Hatton's childhood home was 30 minutes away from Wentworth and he has been coming here since the age of 5, first with his parents as a wide-eyed spectator and now as a potential champion.
''I was in awe of the guys inside of the ropes, and for me now, playing my third BMW PGA, it's great,'' the 24-year-old Hatton said. ''It just makes this tournament feel so much more special.''
Playing the event for the 23rd straight year, Lee Westwood is also in contention after a 68. The former top-ranked player finished birdie-birdie and is tied for third place on 7 under with Yang, who shot 75.
''I think Wentworth is a difficult course to lead on, to protect the lead,'' Westwood said. ''Lots of things can get out of control out there, because the course is getting tougher as the week goes on.''
Round 2 - Danny Willett joins leaders
May 28, 2016
Masters champion Danny Willett, Korea's YE Yang and Scott Hend from Australia were tied for the lead after two rounds of the European PGA Championship at Wentworth on Friday.
Yang, who beat Tiger Woods in the 2009 US PGA Championship, was the last to join the group at the top of the leaderboard when he got up and down from a bunker on the par-five 18th to finish on 10-under par 134 for the 36 holes.
Hend eagled the same hole to take his place alongside Willett and Yang after turning in a 69 to add to a 65 on Thursday which saw him share the first round lead with Yang and Joost Luiten.
But England's Willett had earlier threatened to blow the tournament open with some brilliant golf on the front nine -- he was five in front at one stage, before fading slightly coming home.
Willett dominated the early proceedings going to the turn in 29 -â a tournament record â- before coming home 10 shots worse, in 39.
He had bogeys on the 10th, 15th, 16th and 17th before pulling a shot back at the par-five last but was not complaining about a round that has left him right in contention for the European Tour's flagship event.
Willett said: "I played great most of the day and then chucked a couple of horrid golf shots in there, and it was nice to make birdie at the last, two really good golf shots and I composed myself quite nicely.
"You could have just chucked it and finished really poorly, but to make birdie was good. It shows a little bit of mental strength. But it was still not quite the back nine we were hoping for, but 10-under par, you'd have taken it at the beginning of the day.â
The leading trio are followed by South African Jaco van Zyl who is on nine-under, after a 68, but there is a three-shot gap back to Spain's Jorge Campillo.
Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello, a European Ryder Cup hopeful, jumped nearly 30 places up the leaderboard with a 68 and he insists the leaders are still in sight.
He said: "I'm five shots off the lead. A little further than what I would like, but I'm satisfied with the way I've played, just being five off the lead. I'm in a good position."
Luke Donald, winner in 2011 and 2012, could not make any headway. He shot a level-par 72 for a four-under halfway score to be level with Germany's Martin Kaymer and American Jamie Lovemark, with Lee Westwood a further shot back.
Defending champion Byeong Hun An from Korea recorded another 72 to stay at level par and will remain for the weekend but past winners Miguel Angel Jimenez, Matteo Manasero and Scott Drummond are going home.
Joint first round leader Luiten is alongside Cabrera Bello in a clutch of players on five-under after a 74 but when he was playing the early parts of his round the course was full of English cheers.
Willett was off half an hour before Luiten and made his presence felt with a birdie at the par-four third, to go to seven-under, before making another one at the par-five fourth which took him to eight-under par. He had saved par at the first after going over the back of the green with his second shot and at the second he raced his first putt six feet past the hole before knocking in the return.
Willett's early pyrotechnics were in stark contrast to playing partner Victor Dubuisson, who struggled to an opening nine of 37 and slipped down the field after his opening 69 on Thursday.
Round 1 - Trio top leaderboard
May 27, 2016
Masters champion Danny Willett got off to another fast start on the European Tour, shooting a 6-under 66 to be a stroke behind a trio of leaders after the first round of the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.
Y.E. Yang, Scott Hend and Joost Luiten shared the lead on a day of low scoring in perfect conditions at the tour's headquarters at Wentworth.
Willett, the only member of the world's top 20 competing in the tournament, was the first-round leader at the Irish Open last week but was eventually reeled in by Rory McIlory, and closed with a final-round 77. Playing in front of his home fans for the first time since winning at Augusta, the Englishman fed off their encouragement.
''Last week in Ireland was fantastic, but a little bit more support out there being a home boy in England,'' Willett said after his bogey-free round. ''Great reception all the way around. You've got to appreciate that and enjoy it, and hopefully, touch wood, give them some good golf to watch.''
Defending champion Byeong-Hun An held the early lead when he rolled in four straight birdies from No. 4. He covered the back nine in 40 to shoot a level-par 72 and was overshadowed by another South Korean.
Yang, who won the U.S. PGA Championship in 2009 after chasing down Tiger Woods in the final round, made a bogey on the opening hole and reacted by rolling in eight birdies - including on Nos. 17 and 18.
With Lee Soo-min winning the Shenzhen International and Wang Jeung-hun getting back-to-back wins in Morocco and Mauritius, South Korean golfers are seeking their fourth victory in the last six events on the European Tour.
''More are playing good (and) maybe better than me and K.J. (Choi),'' Yang said. ''Different players, and more and more good players are coming.''
A conservative approach paid off for Hend, who had eight birdies and a bogey on No 15. The Australian won his second European Tour title in Thailand in March.
Luiten, from the Netherlands, rolled in nine birdies to bounce back impressively from rounds of 75 and 80 in Ireland.
Australia's Richard Green, England's Robert Rock and South Africa's Jaco van Zyl were two shots off the lead after 67s, with former No. 1 Luke Donald starting his bid for a third title at European Tour's flagship event with a 68. Donald beat Lee Westwood in a playoff at Wentworth in 2011 to go top of the rankings for the first time, and retained the title 12 months later.
''That was a perfect start,'' said Donald, who began the week ranked No. 76. ''The last year or two has been tough, I've struggled to gain confidence and feel comfortable, but the last couple of months I'm feeling more and more comfortable and it's nice to see some better results. I feel like I am on the upward path.''