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While golf lovers everywhere will rejoice that Cinderella man Oliver Wilson made light of his lowly world ranking of 745th in Denmark to notch his first victory for eight years, punters reeling from the shock of a 250/1 winner will be hoping there’s no repeat at England’s biggest golf week of the year, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Provided the forecasted filthy weather doesn’t spoil it, what a feast we have in store on the famed West Course with FedEx Cup winner Rory McIlroy, as big a hero in the States as he is over here, heading an all-star cast in front of sell-out crowds in a brilliant setting.
After seven weeks of, let’s face it, pretty ho-hum tournaments in Europe since The Open without an elite player in sight, what a treat to have Major champions like McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick and Shane Lowry trying to prise the Tour’s flagship trophy from the hands of American visitor Billy Horschel.
The ever-popular Horschel put our Ryder Cup men to the sword last year despite not being regarded as good enough to make the US side, which not surprisingly pulverised Europe at Whistling Straits two weeks later.
Unfortunately all will not be sweetness and light with 16 LIV rebels, unwanted by the DP World Tour but using the law to delay their ban, scheduled to tee up alongside the loyalists in an uneasy temporary truce. McIlroy, for one, is not looking forward to that side of it and has made his position very clear.
Among those unwelcome “guests” is Lee Westwood, never a PGA champion but a World Match Play winner at Wentworth 22 years ago, who was only one decent wedge away from shooting a last-round 60 and running off with the $4m jackpot in Boston on Sunday. Instead he dumped the ball into the bunker, came out weakly and didn’t even make the playoff, spectacularly won by Dustin Johnson with an eagle three.
How near we were to a transatlantic English double from the ‘W’ men! Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Abe Ancer, Talor Gooch, Ian Poulter, Branden Grace, Martin Kaymer and Bernd Wiesberger are other rebels prominent in the betting who could upset the applecart this stormy weekend.
Nobody wants it to degenerate into a Goodies vs Baddies handbags-at-dawn showdown but this column is about punting opportunities, not politics. We all want McIlroy, Rahm and Co to thrill us and the game of golf to be is shown in its best light. Never rule out an upset of Oliver Wilson proportions. Remember unknown Scott Drummond, 435th in the world, winning this at 500/1 in 2004? Or reserve Simon Khan coming in so late that the bookies didn’t have time to list the 2010 champion?
Or South Korean rookie Ben An outclassing the 2015 field? None of them ever won again in Europe, nor did 2001 and 2016 winners Andy Oldcorn and Chris Wood. So if you fancy an apparent no-hoper, stick to your guns! I just feel there are just too many “name” players in good-to-excellent form for the 200/1 shots to get a look-in. Class acts Francesco Molinari, Danny Willett, Tyrrell Hatton and Horschel have won the last four editions and this is the strongest yet.
McIlroy doesn’t always come but when he does, he makes it count as winner in 2014, runner-up in 2018 and top-ten in 2019. And he’s having a year of wonderful consistency even if things like the Open haven’t quite panned out. Critics should cut him some slack for his failures as he is a good man, on and off the course.
Rahm, runner-up to Willett in 2019, has yet to put his imprint on this tournament. It has not been the year he wanted but a second child has been a distraction, albeit a very welcome one, and he seems to have sorted out the putting that had been letting the Spaniard down.
Fitzpatrick has done Britain proud by winning the US Open but, while a fair seventh in 2019, tree-lined Wentworth has never really brought the best out of him. Lowry, on the other hand, has a terrific record on the 7267-yard par 72 West, which will be a proper test in the likely unfriendly conditions.
The trouble with the bluff Irishman is that he doesn’t win anywhere near as often as his talent deserves and punters who have followed this short-game artist over a cliff, while often getting a great run for their money, usually end up losing it.
He hasn’t won since the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush but his Wentworth record - second, fourth, two sixths, an 11th and a 12th - bears close inspection. A repeat of 2014 when he chased home Rory would have Irish eyes smiling as well as a good few punters.
It’s hard to leave out Horschel who preceded his victory with fourth in 2019 and has had a good year with victory at Memorial and second at Bay Hill, while Wentworth fan Reed, third in 2019 and fourth in 2020, is another American who can’t be ignored.
Third at the LIV Golf tournament in Portland, he didn’t play so well in Boston last week but finished strongly and that will have served as a great warm-up. Any rumblings of discontent will be water off a duck’s back to this thick-skinned Texan who thrives on his bad-boy image.
Hatton, whose four-shot victory two years ago made my bank manager very happy, and Adam Scott both have their games in good nick.
Scott’s pair of fifth places in the first two FedEx playoffs were particularly eye-catching as there was little sign of his well-chronicled flat-stick woes while Hatton followed a good Open (11th) with a top-ten at Wyndham and is trending the right way.
Best of the outsiders might be 2018 champion Molinari, very consistent at Wentworth over the years and 15th at The Open the last time we saw the little Italian, and Eddie Pepperell, twice sixth in the PGA, who has emerged from a bleak spell with 18-8-20-2-11 on his five latest outings, having found a swing he can trust.
BMW PGA Championship golf betting tips 2022
- 3pts win Rory McIlroy at 6/1
- 1pt each-way Adam Scott at 30/1
- 1pt each-way Tyrrell Hatton at 30/1
- 1pt each-way Billy Horschel at 22/1
- 1pt each-way Shane Lowry at 18/1
- 0.5pt each-way Eddie Pepperell at 80/1
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Celebrating my 52nd year tipping and writing about golf. Tipped more than 800 winners (and more than 8000 losers!). First big winner Lee Trevino at 8-1, 1972 Open at Muirfield. Biggest win £40 each-way Ernie Els at 80-1 and 50-1, 2012 Open. Most memorable: Giving the 1-2-3 at 33-1, 50-1, 33-1 out of 4 tips from a field of 180 in 2006 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. According to one bookmaker “Undoubtedly one of the greatest tipping performances of all time”. And, of course, putting up a 150/1 winner with Stewart Cink in my very first column for Golf Monthly. Lowest handicap 9 Present handicap 35.6. Publications tipped for: Sporting Life, Racing Post, Racing&Football Outlook, Golf World, Golf Weekly, Golf Monthly, Fitzdares Times. Check our Jeremy's latest tips at our Golf Betting tips home page
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