Ben Cowley’s torrid run continued with a winning result of 33/1 and places of 80/1 and 125/1 last week. Get his five selections for the BMW PGA Championship.
Cameron Smith’s Open victory almost qualified because we all knew what was in store for us, but so far we haven’t had to deal with an embarrassing sight when a LIV golfer wins a non-LIV tournament. This week, in the BMW PGA Championship, the prospect seems unpleasantly real. Six of the top 16 players in the betting world are from the dark side (so that’s my column!), And among them there are players with a proven form of Wentworth or games adapted to his needs.
DP’s world tour required the players to start beating, and therefore it is the perfect time for Rory McIlroy and John RAM to return to his flagship event. The last time McIlroy played him was in 2019, finishing in the top 10, despite an opening 76th place showing how badly he had to go wrong to keep him away from the leaders on his home tour. RAM finished second that week and won six of the 19 non-major appearances here, which proved to be extremely beneficial for blind following.
With a score of less than 10/1 for both players, the US Open champion, Matt Fitzpatrick, is not far behind and the course specialist, Shane Lowry, twice affordable than in 2020, is dominated by the Stars of the European Ryder Cup, who have played key roles in the biggest tournaments of this year. For now, and long may it last, the real strength lies in those who have chosen the path that will lead to The Ryder Cup in just over a year, rather than in the courtroom.
If reading all this makes you tired, try printing it out. I’d rather not do it. But this split colors and threatens the sport as we know it, and it is impossible to escape from it in a way that the PGA Tour has not. His position is clear – play LIV and you fly away – but the DP world tour had to accept smaller sanctions and, at the moment, his hands are tied. Rumor has it that a group of players wrote a letter to the rebels to let them know that they were not needed. This feeling has already forced Martin Kaymer to resign.
And that’s partly why I can’t bring myself to support any of them this week. Abraham Anker has a good profile for the course and Bernd Wiesberger has dropped enormously in rates compared to the first months of the year. Laurie Canter took second place here on her debut, and Sam Hartsfield claimed victory twice. They should all have made the shortlist, but a determined team of the owners of the field must win this particular action.
The strike is led by McIlroy and RAM, but I am pleasantly surprised that I was able to take 22/1 against VICTOR HOWLAND and it seems a fantastic option for players on both sides.
When the Norwegian won the Dubai Desert Classic, he did it with more advantage than McIlroy, but now we have almost four times more chances, which reflects the fact that he was undoubtedly below his best result for part of the summer.
However, he was alongside McIlroy in the final group of the Open, since then he has finished 20th, 35th and 15th in all three FedEx Cup playoff tournaments. It’s a solid form that looks stronger when you look at it alongside the other two top players, and I like the fact that his approach to the game has already been good in four out of five tournaments, after a sharp drop in June.
No more need for a runner, the only Club to have bowed significantly since winning 4-1-MC-4-2-9 in a tumultuous start to the year, but that’s not too much of a problem. Wentworth’s West Field doesn’t ask for too much to start with, and the fact that he hit the ball so well here last September gives hope that he can find something to return to his usual surroundings when he has to follow him.
Even though he only managed to take 49th place in his second start in this tournament, Howland can apologize: he arrived directly from the TOUR championship, while this time he had two weeks off to prepare. He made his debut in 11th place in 2019, just a few months after the start of his professional career, and again straight from the plane, at a time when he still had to win.
Since then, he has won six titles and, as is often seen among PGA Tour participants, he has been very peril on his return to Europe. So far, he hasn’t quite managed RAM’s one-on-three comeback, but the two wins in the 10 DP World tour starts as a professional tell us a lot, and Dubai and the BMW International Open actually correlate well with Wentworth.
Of course, his constant selection and submission problems are always a concern and he has one or two questions to answer, but here we are talking about the action of the conscientious class, and 22/1 to win Europe seems to underestimate not only his potential, but also the player he is today.
At best, this course would be a fairy tale for the young man and, having overcome Rory in Dubai, he could simply repeat it in Surrey.
Lowry just looks a bit skinny and Fitzpatrick isn’t playing well enough to maintain a 12/1, so my eye has been on Adam Scott for more than twice as much. He was in the spotlight throughout the tournament last year, has played well recently, can take advantage of the fact that he is firmly on his feet (again) and keeps his promise at the Presidents Cup, and is usually a factor when he leaves the United States.
However, he admitted that this course made him a little uncomfortable and that he relied too much on the putter for comfort, so after some hesitation, I’m going to side with TOMMY FLEETWOOD.
In terms of form, there is a lot to like here. Fleetwood was fourth at the Scottish Open, improving as the week went on, and did something similar to action his way through the field and take fourth at the Open a week after. OK, his comfort level on the links lawn played a part, but he was also 10th at the European Open and fifth at the US PGA, which allowed him to finish in the top 10 of the six four times.
He also has something in common with several Wentworth Champions, and especially that he is English. Again and again we have seen the players on the pitch improve their game, which was a rare chance to play in front of the home fans, and although we now have more tournaments in the UK, players like Fleetwood are rarely able to participate.
Most importantly, he has already fought for this title, and this is what unites almost all the Champions here. Billy Horschel was ranked in the top five in 2019, Tyrrell Hutton was in the final group before his victory, as was Danny Willett. Francesco Molinari led halfway at least three times, Chris Wood was the leader over 54 holes in his debut, and even the youngest winner in history, Matteo Manassero, found time to lead in three rounds.
Fleetwood didn’t get that far, but he was fourth in the final round in 2015 and took the same position at the same stage in 2020, meaning he was eliminated twice in the last groups. This is not only an experience that will be useful, but also proof that, although his background is apparently modest, he has played a lot of good golf games here over the years.
The slow start has cost him each of the last two overtimes, as well as a last missed round two years ago, but he returns with his well-placed game and with the right tools to join contemporaries like Hutton, Willett and Wood and add another high-end English name to the list of honor.
The downside is that no one has seen him since the Discovery, and that’s because his mother died shortly after. I’m not going to speculate on how it might affect him here, because I honestly have no idea, and it’s just a golf tournament. However, I will say that if someone is going to win after a break of almost two months, then he may well be a player who won the first event of the year twice after similar absences.
These victories in Abu Dhabi, plus one in Paris and another in South Africa make Fleetwood a contender for the title of Rolex series champion, and if he doesn’t rust too much at the beginning of the match, I can very well imagine how he will achieve the emotional and long-awaited breakthrough here at Wentworth.
Next up is THOMAS PETERS, who, at 30, is playing one of the best golfers of his career and will strive to contribute to the cause of the DP World Tour.
One day, Peters made headlines when his mentor, Nicholas Colsarts, said that he didn’t like the Americans very much, just about during his brilliant Ryder Cup debut. Even if this was undesirable at the time, there was some truth in this statement and Peters seems happy to pursue a career based on Europe and against the current.
Everything is going well, because he is now a six-time winner at this level and also won the 2018 World Cup alongside Thomas Detry, and there is absolutely no doubt that his moment of glory came this year when he won the title on a world-class field in Abu Dhabi.