It's the European tour flagship event this week and all the big names flock back to these shores. In truth, these are the least fanciful betting events for me where all the market leaders look too short IMO, while at the same time it will be hard for the pack to infiltrate the marquee names at the top....
As mentioned on Twitter, emphasis is on ball striking and tee to green game at the BMW PGA Championship on a tricky tree-lined Wentworth track that requires shot shaping both ways and accurate approach play into (many) elevated greens equipped with run off areas. Swirling winds often catch the players out in amongst the forest terrain while old style penal fairway bunkers are there to catch slightly errant drives. Last year greens were poor, very firm, and hard to hold but as pointed out to me by @Tomthetipster on Twitter who attended the 2012 event, the weather was a lot better/warmer then so greens may be more receptive this year. Strong winds also had a hand in this at the 2012 BMW PGA Championship event.
Lee Westwood is the man to finish ahead of this week for me and while the big six will be hard to beat, those short prices mean value elsewhere with most firms paying 6 places and there are four in particular towards the middle of the market that take my fancy - two with noted success at the BMW PGA Championship and two with none whatsoever, but never-the-less - for different reasons - I think could go well this year:
First to stand out for me were two South Africans with superb ball striking ability: Branden Grace finished in the top five in his debut here last year while Richard Sterne has posted finishes of 3rd and sixth despite injury problems in recent years at Wentworth. Tony Johnstone has mentioned many times that Branden Grace learned to keep his ball flight low when growing up in windy conditions in South Africa and this should stand him in good stead here while Richard Sterne showed us his all round ability while winning in Joburg and finishing runner up in Dubai. Richard has hit 75% of GIR this year with a putting average sub 28 and both guys can beat any field when on song. Grace only narrowly missed out at the Volvo matchplay last week.
Next up are two guys with a smattering of BMW PGA Championship missed cuts but it could be said of both that they've each moved up a level this year: David Lynn has taken up status on the PGA Tour and has become a new man with some fabulous performances and according to his Twitter he's very excited about returning home for a period. Lynn just missed out on his maiden PGA Tour victory in a playoff defeat to Derek Ernst a few weeks back and confidence is high.
ThorBjorn Olesen has now had a few years to get to grips with the European Tour and he's touted as a future superstar in many quarters. Indeed Olesen finished 6th at the Masters where emphasis is firmly on approach shots and if his irons are on song again this week, he should be a feature. Both he and Lynn look worth chancing at the odds available.
BMW PGA Championship staking plan (prices from Monday members email)
As always, keep an eye on my spreadsheet on Wednesday for all picks including 1st RL and Colonial selections, or follow me on Twitter @Nicspicks
Pick #1: 1u ew Branden Grace @ 55/1 (SJ)
Pick #2: 1u ew Richard Sterne @ 60/1 (general)
Pick #3: 1u ew Thorbjorn Olesen @ 55/1 (general)
Pick #4: 0.75u ew David Lynn @ 70/1 (Skybet)
ALERT: Stanjames are places 1-6 and top industry price on numerous players at the BMW PGA Championship
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