A Short History of the BMW PGA in the 21st Century
Ahead of this week’s BMW PGA Championship on the West Course at Wentworth, Matt Cooper presents a look back at the last 17 years of the European Tour’s flagship event.
2000 – Monty’s Millenium Magic
Colin Montgomerie famously always came up short in world golf, never going higher than second in both the world rankings and major championships, but he always dominated in Europe, notching eight Order of Merit titles and ruling at Wenworth. Unaffected by any Y2K malfunctions he completed a hat-trick of PGA titles in 2000. “I’m thrilled at making history,” he said. “No-one has ever done this before.” All credit to him.
2001-2004 – The Wonder Years
Andrew Oldcorn, Ignacio Garrido and Scott Drummond were three of the next four winners and not one of them flagged up their unlikely wins. None of them had even one seasonal top ten ahead of victory and all three missed the cut prior to teeing it up on the West Course.
2005 – Every Duck Has Its Day
Angel Cabrera, nicknamed El Pato (The Duck), finished second in 2001, led after 54 holes in 2004 and then finally completed victory in 2005, the greatest of his nine top six finishes at Wentworth.
2006 – The “Can I Have Your Autograph?” Inspiration Years
When David Howell triumphed in 2006 he was the first English winner since Nick Faldo in 1989 and yet after him five of ten winners would also fly the St George’s flag. They had more in common than mere nationality too – Howell, Paul Casey (2009), Simon Khan (2010), Luke Donald (2011-12) and Chris Wood (2016) all hail from the south of England and they also spent time on the West Course as youngsters, watching their heroes, blagging autographs and spare gloves. (In those same 11 years Englishmen were second six times, four of them losing in play-offs.)
2007 – The Unlikely Double
Surprisingly one Englishman who hasn’t lifted the PGA trophy is Justin Rose, but he went closest when toppled by Denmark’s Anders Hansen in 2007, the solid Tour performer who had also claimed the title five years earlier.
2010 – If He Khan Do It
Heading into the final round Simon Khan was T13th and seven shots back of the lead, but a sparkling 66 set a tough clubhouse target. One of his friends was in tears behind the 18th green after Khan drained his final putt. “He’s my mate and we’ve been coming here since we was kids,” the six foot thirtysomething unapologetically blubbed. “I think he’s gonna win and I think I’m gonna cry.” Khan watched on TV as every challenger slipped backwards leaving him alone at the top.
2011-12 – The World Number One
The new 18th hole has never quite worked. Too often, instead of watching players lash a fairway wood up the right-handside of the green, hoping to see it chase towards the pin (as in the good old days), they lay up behind the new pond, creating a naff par-three.
Even more weirdly in 2011 that naff par-three decided not only the destiny of the title, but number one spot in the world rankings also. Luke Donald took on Lee Westwood in extra holes, Donald prevailed, pinched Westwood’s top spot, and defended the PGA title 12 months later.
2013 – The Sorceror and the Apprentice
Ahead of the final round Matteo Manassero, the 20-year-old Italian wonderkid and already a three-time winner on the European Tour, adorned a navy blue jumper and green trousers in honour of his hero Seve Ballesteros. Simon Khan yet again set the pace (this time with a 66), but Manassero’s 69 caught him and the Italian prevailed in extra holes.
2014 – Distraction Technique
Rory McIlroy has a very curious record on the West Course, often struggling. In 2014 his week began less like the pages of Golf Monthly and more the front cover of Heat as his engagement to Caroline Wozniacki ended. The only place he wasn’t asked questions was inside the ropes. Perhaps that explains why he played better than ever before, shooting a final round 66 to claim the win.
2015 – Rookies Don’t Win At Wentworth
The uninitiated rarely win on the West Course, but a first round sighter of 71 was all Ben An needed. A Friday 64 got him into second, a Saturday 67 a share of the lead, and he destroyed the field on Sunday with a 65 for a six stroke win.
2016 – Woody, Could He?
Chris Wood was no stranger to having fun on the West Course ahead of 2016. On debut in 2010 he had led after 54-holes before finishing sixth and in 2015 he not only finished fourth, but claimed a car when making a hole-in-one at the 14th. Twelve months later he topped all that, equalling the tournament record for the front nine (29) and then holding on during a tough back nine to complete the win by one stroke.
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