Wentworth Club welcomes next week the world’s very best golfers to the BMW PGA Championship.
Many of the game’s leading players will assemble at Wentworth Club on Monday 23rd May for an Invitational event to honour the memory and celebrate the life of the late Seve Ballesteros, whilst raising considerable funds for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation.
The event will precede a week of world-class golf at the BMW PGA Championship when, for the first time, all four current Major holders will be competing in the European Tour’s flagship event.
The quartet of current champions - Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, will be joined in the stellar field by eight other Major winners including Ernie Els and Retief Goosen and by Europe’s Ryder Cup heroes, including a further four from the current top seven players in the Official World Ranking (Westwood, Donald, McIlroy and Casey).
All eyes again will be on the iconic West Course, where further work has taken place to enhance what is already regarded as one of Europe’s finest parkland courses.
Following last year’s Championship, a decision was taken by Wentworth to modify the 18th green and green complex, as well as to adjust the fall on the 8th green. On the 12th the landing area off the tee has been widened and additionally, on the 15th a fairway bunker has been moved.
Over the winter a carefully planned phase of tree clearance was undertaken, with several holes subjected to significant tree surgery to improve air and light into the greens, the green complexes and teeing areas.
Work has also taken place on many of the bunkers on the West Course, with a new blend of sand being used that will reduce the risk of plug lies whilst still ensuring the bunkers are free-draining in wet conditions.
Wentworth Chief Executive Julian Small said: “Throughout this process, we have made brave and bold decisions, so as to ensure the West Course remains a fitting challenge in years to come; but it’s fair to say that after last year’s Championship we felt it necessary to make some more changes.”
It is expected that the new revisions to the 18th hole in particular will mean more players attempting to reach the green in two shots, making for a dramatic finale.
From the tee the landing area has been made wider and flatter to give the player more opportunity to take the green on in two. The swale at the back of the green has been removed and the green itself lowered by 75cm and made more than 25 per cent bigger, increasing the size of the target and creating more pin positions.
Additionally, the far right hand side of the green has been raised, with the bunkers effectively becoming shallower as a consequence of the lowered putting surface.
Wentworth legend and course designer Ernie Els said: “To get this absolutely as we all wanted required two bites of the cherry, but this ultimately is the best solution for this iconic finishing hole.
That little bit of extra margin for error definitely makes a difference to your shot selection and I believe many more players will take it on in two at this year’s BMW PGA Championship. Hopefully it will help produce an exciting climax, which is what a tournament of this stature deserves.”
Wentworth Club Chairman Richard Caring said: “We’re proud of the work that has taken place over the last few years to enhance the West Course. With such a fabulous field at this year’s BMW PGA Championship, and with the 18th in particular now presenting a more compelling risk and reward challenge, I think we’ll see some great drama at this year’s tournament.
Caring said: “This is a special year for the Championship. Twenty years ago Seve Ballesteros won both the PGA Championship and the World Match Play here on the West Course. We hope that next week’s tournament will be a fitting tribute to Seve, and look forward to seeing spectators out in force.
George O’Grady CBE, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “The West Course, Harry Colt’s masterpiece now redesigned by Ernie Els and Wentworth Club, is in superb condition and the Club’s Chairman, Richard Caring, and BMW have contrived to make the seventh BMW PGA Championship a superb stage for an enthralling week.”