Now that the PGA TOUR season has concluded, the European Tour now enters the critical phase of its season. Now with a new date in September, the BMW PGA Championship, which features an outstanding field and is played on the outskirts of London, is a highlight on the international golf calendar. For the European players, qualification for the Ryder Cup 2020 at Whistling Straits (US state of Wisconsin) gets underway in front of the knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowds at the Wentworth Club. Next year’s BMW PGA Championship will also mark the end of qualification, after which nine of the players who will represent Team Europe in the first Ryder Cup with BMW on board as “Worldwide Partner” will be known.
Last weekend, Rory McIlroy won the FedExCup for the second time, having previously triumphed in 2016 – an achievement only ever matched by Tiger Woods (2007 and 2009). The four-time major winner also has his sights set on a double at the BMW PGA Championship. The 30-year-old won the European Tour’s flagship event five years ago, and also finished runner-up behind Francesco Molinari last year.
Rory McIlroy: “The BMW PGA Championship is always a great event and I’m looking forward to playing in it again, particularly in its new September date. The West Course should be in superb condition and the change in date should also mean an even stronger field.”
McIlroy is certainly right there. The previous date, in May, demanded a mild spring in order for the challenging West Course to be at its best. In contrast, course conditions are ideal in autumn. And the list of players set to tee off at Wentworth is littered with big names. They include Shane Lowry, who joined the elite circle of major winners this July, when he won the Claret Jug at the Open in Royal Portrush.
Shane Lowry: “The BMW PGA Championship is one of my favourite events. When I first played at Wentworth in 2010, I remember I couldn’t believe how big it was – it felt like playing a major.”
Defending champion Molinari was the driving force behind the European team’s Ryder Cup victory in Paris last September. He won five out of a possible five points, with four of those coming alongside Tommy Fleetwood in the doubles. Golf fans at Wentworth can look forward to a reunion of the dream pairing, affectionately nicknamed “Moliwood”: The two friends will be joined at this prestigious tournament by fellow Ryder Cup winners Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey (BMW PGA Champion 2009), Alex Noren (BMW PGA Champion 2017), Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson.
It is quite possible that Stenson and Co. will come up against three players at the Ryder Cup 2020, who will be making their first BMW PGA Championship debut this year: Americans Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Billy Horschel.
Tony Finau: “I’ve heard a lot of amazing things about the BMW PGA Championship and about Wentworth, so playing in the tournament for the first time is exciting for me. It looks like the field is going to be very strong and the crowds are always fun in Britain, so it should be a great week.“
The BMW PGA Championship week kicks off on Wednesday with the traditional Celebrity Pro-Am, which features many stars from the worlds of sport and showbusiness. Among those teeing off will be pop star Niall Horan (IRL, formerly in One Direction), actor and model Andrés Velencoso (ESP), and Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs (WAL), Paul Scholes (ENG) and Nemanja Vidic (SRB).
As well as world class golf, the BMW PGA Championship is also known for outstanding entertainment. Famous London-based electronic band, Rudimental, will perform on the Saturday evening, while popular English singer Anne-Marie will take to the stage after play on the Sunday.