Winner’s Share – €791,660
Course – Wentworth Club (7,302 yards par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Francesco Molinari (T7), Jamie Donaldson (T30), Anders Hansen (T30), Danny Willett (T63), Richie Ramsey (T38)
After a wonderful return to European soil last week in Spain, the Tour now heads to it’s flagship event – the BMW PGA Championship in the UK. No denying there has been some incredible golf so far this season – it really is hotting up, but every year you get that same feeling for this event. The summer truly starts here.
The field often attracts some of the very best and this year is absolutely no different. There are a few omissions – Ian Poulter being one, but the on fire world number one Rory Mcilroy, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Jamie Donaldson and Graeme McDowell are flying the European flag, whilst the likes of Brooks Koepka have returned to British lands, just to make it that little bit more exciting.
As it has been since 1982, the weeks play will be at Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey. It’s the headquarters of the PGA European Tour and is full of history and prestige. At 7,308 yards, the par 72 will examine the players in various ways, testing every facet of their games. The view off most tees is the same – tight, tree-lined fairways, which makes driving highly important. If you are straight and relatively long, you can position yourself to attack the pins and fight for your birdies. The greens are notoriously difficult to read and you will expect top iron players to be challenging for the titles.
Not necessarily plotters, but certainly those that have the ability to strategize their way round at least. Interestingly as well, every winner since 2005 has had a top ten here before their victory, so course form is clearly important.
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time. You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Jamie Donaldson (33/1 William Hill)
Not often you say that a 39 year old is coming into his own and playing the best stuff of his career, but the Welshman quite simply is. Not only has he conquered Europe to an extent, he’s gone over to America and performed more than admirably there too. The way that he has been playing the golf he has across the pond is worth its weight in gold confidence-wise.
He comes here with the requisite top 10 at Wentworth, two of them in fact in ’11 and ’05, but more importantly he comes here in form. His T8 at the PLAYERS was sign once again that he produces his best stuff on the big stage, dare we remind you of the Ryder Cup. It was only Donaldson’s second appearance at Sawgrass and his stats alone did the talking – T16 driving accuracy, T16 GIR and 31st putting. Let’s face it, the BMW PGA is a huge event for most Brits and Jamie has all the tools to go and win this.
Danny Willettt (50/1 William Hill)
In terms of value and confidence, this is our bet of the week without doubt. Just like Donaldson in many respects, the Englishman has taken it to a different level this season.
In America, he played his first PGA Tour event outside of WGC’s and majors at the Arnold Palmer, finished T29. Played at the Cadillac Championship for the first time, finished T12. Played around Augusta for the first time, finished T38. And then most impressive of all, played at the WGC Match-play for the first time, finished 3rd! Over in Europe, he won his first event of the campaign at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, by 4 shots. So it’s been some season and when you look at his form considering the tournaments he’s been in you can’t help but be impressed.
Danny has openly admitted he’s looking to become full time in America so he will only playing events in Europe that he cares about. This is one. Has a best of 5th on his first time around here in 2010 and we all know the trends regarding Englishmen winning here.
Miguel Angel Jimenez (70/1 Stan James)
Yes he’s 51 and yes he’s eligible for the Champions Tour but the Spaniard is defying all the odds and still performing at the highest level and we think he’ll continue that this week.
Wentworth is a thinking man’s course and nobody thinks more than Miguel. His record here speaks for itself over the last 10 years – 4 tops 10’s and a victory. You don’t have to be the longest or the strongest to win around here. Us more than anyone at times have been surprised to see Jimenez consistently challenge in events over these past couple of years but his performance in Barcelona last week made us sit up and realise he could carry that on to Wentworth. All facets of his game were working, as he ranked 21st driving accuracy, 22nd GIR and 6th putts per GIR.
Not to mention the fact he finished 2nd in his home event while recording a hole-in-one. It’s going to take a big character to win around Wentworth this week with record crowds expected and characters don’t get much better than MAJ.
David Howell (50/1 Stan James)
The Englishman is a case where we just have to go there all things considered. Like Willett, we think there’s huge value in this one and we’ll tell you why. His last 3 European events read – 2nd Open de Espana, 2nd Volvo China Open, 4th Shenzhen International. Besides Rory, Justin and perhaps George Coetzee, that is comfortably the best form you will find this week.
Then you look at Wentworth and you look at what Howell is all about, they’re a match made in heaven. Good old fashioned English ironplay, there’s not many better when he’s hot. His win here in 2006 proves his suitability for the track. And then you just have to look at the trends. Englishman, and in particular southerners, love it here. You only have to look at Simon Khan, who elsewhere in Europe can’t really buy a big finish over the last few years, has consistently turned up at Wentworth – two 2nd’s and a win.
Padraig Harrington (125/1 Stan James) INJURY DOUBT
At this price, why not? Over at the Honda Classic, a pretty big event for the PGA Tour, we witnessed the Irishman’s rebirth. He beat young star Daniel Berger on the 2nd hole of a play-off, sticking it to 6 feet on what was meant to be a tough par 3. If you looked at any PGA Tour champ from this season and they came over to Europe, they would be nowhere near the odds Padraig finds himself at. It’s value.
We love backing a guy with confidence and with this his first European event of the year after his American success, he will be brimming with it. His record here isn’t shabby either, you can see why he’s got a flight over. 6th,6th and 11th are 3 of his finishes in his last 6 starts at Wentworth. And then despite not featuring at the PLAYERS whatsoever, looking at his stats from Sawgrass you can see glimpses that he’s still right at the top of his game – T16 driving accuracy and 2nd GIR. From that we can gleam the putter just wasn’t working but he knows these greens and he’s one of those players that when he contends, the putts just seem to drop.
Recommended replacement: Joost Luiten (66/1 Various)
Soren Kjeldsen (200/1 Various)
We’re going to be chucking a few pounds at the Dane this week. He’s played in every one of these events since 1999 and has a 3 top 10’s to his name and a best of 3rd in 2009. It’s fair to say the last couple of season’s have not been the kindest to him but the last month or so have shown he could be getting back to his best. He followed up a 14th at the Trophee Hassan with a T9 last week in Spain. For the week he ranked 2nd GIR which certainly excites us, that’s exactly what Soren does. His ironplay is a joy at times and to see him striking it that well at these odds is worth money every day of the week. And not just that, his game is a perfect fit for Wentworth.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out. It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£2.00 e/w on Jamie Donaldson at 30/1
£1.50 e/w on Danny Willett at 40/1
£0.50 e/w on Miguel Angel Jimenez at 50/1
£1.00 e/w on David Howell at 40/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 18 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-68.70 European Tour: £-78.12
PGA Tour: £-15.94 PGA Tour: £33.75
Total: £-84.64 Total: £-44.37
Golf Monthly leads by: £40.27