For the first time ever, the BMW PGA Championship is being held in September instead of its usual May slot due to the rescheduling of America’s PGA Championship.
As a result, a strong field heads to Wentworth this week, with plenty big names – such as Rory McIlroy, the 11/2 favourite in the golf betting – competing for one of the European Tour’s most prestigious titles.
Despite the change in date, the BMW PGA should, in theory, be one of the easiest tournaments to predict on the European Tour, as it is one of the few that is played at the same venue every single year.
There are several trends over the past 15 years that point to the kind of player that should be expected to win this week.
For example, 11 of the last 14 BMW PGA champions were ranked inside the top 55 players in the world, so it’s unlikely an outsider comes from nowhere to win this week.
Only one of the last 13 winners at this tournament have come from a country outside of Europe – Byeong-Hun An in 2015.
A handful of American players, like Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Billy Horschel, have made the trip over to play at Wentworth this week, but they should be avoided given their nation’s record in this tournament.
It’s also worth disregarding the older players in the field, as this event has been dominated by players under the age of 37 over the past 15 years.
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Miguel Angel Jimenez is the only player to buck that trend, having triumphed at the age of 44 in 2008.
Experience is key this week, though, as An is also the only player in the past 14 years to win at Wentworth despite previously having never won a PGA Tour or European Tour event.
History suggests that it’s important to have had a few cracks at this event in the past.
Since 2005, 12 of the 14 winners had made at least six previous starts at Wentworth, with An and Matteo Manassero the only exceptions.
Simply turning up every year isn’t enough, though. It’s very rare that a player wins this event having never been in contention before.
Of the past 14 winners, 13 had previously finished inside the top 10 at Wentworth at least once. An was the only exception, as he was making his course debut.
Ten of those players had also made the cut at this event in the year before their victory.
Finally, 10 of the last 15 winners of this event had made the cut in their previous start, so it’s worth avoiding anyone who failed to reach the weekend at last week’s KLM Open.
Taking all the above criteria into account, only two players fit the bill.
Rory McIlroy 11/2 looks a very strong favourite.
At 30, the Northern Irishman is in his prime and sits second in the world rankings after a fantastic season.
A victory in 2014 was his best result in nine starts at this event to date, and he finished second last year.
The four-time major winner finished T2 at the European Masters in his last start and has 24 career victories to his name, including three already this year.
Tommy Fleetwood 18/1 is also a great bet.
The Englishman has four career wins at the age of 28 and has already played at Wentworth seven times in the past.
A T6 in 2015 was his best result to date and he finished a respectable T20 last year.
Fleetwood is coming off a T8 at the European Masters last time out and is currently 16th in the world rankings.
In collaboration with Betway