Wednesday, May 25, 2011


The strongest field in the world this year outside of the Masters is assembled at Wentworth for the European Tour’s flagship event.
The four major champions, the world’s top three, seven of the top 10 and the full compliment of European Ryder Cup all stars are contesting the BMW PGA Championship over the next four days.
The three absentees at the top of the rankings are all American. The global penny is slow to drop on the other side of the Atlantic unless, of course, it is attached to an appearance fee. The loss is America’s, not Wentworth’s.
Luke Donald, pictured right, enlivened the preamble in most unDonald-like fashion by claiming he is probably the best golfer in the world despite his No 2 ranking behind Lee Westwood. Perhaps he was imbibing a particular brand of amber nectar at the European Tour Awards dinner the night before.
He has a point. Seven consecutive top-10 finishes this season, 13 out of 14 stretching back to last year confirm Donald as the most consistent golfer in the world.
Westwood, traditionally a slow starter, banged in back-to-back victories on his Far East tour in April to illuminate the difference between the two; when a door opens Westwood is inclined to rip it off its hinges.
Donald continues to knock politely. He’s working on it. He has tabled one victory in that run, albeit in match play, the Accenture in February, which rewards a different facet of the game and lacks the rigour of conventional stroke play.
“I don’t know whether you choose someone who has won events or majors [as world No1] or you go with someone who has chances to win every week. I feel I’ve been the most consistent,” Donald said. “I think I’ve proved that in the last few months.”
The stats will deliver Donald to the top of the rankings on Sunday should he finish above Westwood and No3 Martin Kaymer does not claim a top-two spot.
Westwood, too, was in perky mood on the media oche. After losing to Ian Poulter in the last 16 at the Volvo Match Play in Andalucia last week, despite hitting the ball sweetly, Westwood “wants it large” this week in the words of his manager Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler.
Westwood bristled at the suggestion that his comments afterwards lacked generosity and claimed his observation that Poulter does not “hit it great” were taken out of context.
The banter was flying across the floor at the awards dinner, with Westwood’s high sheen black shirt with stacked collar attracting a lot of attention. “He [Poulter] dropped a couple in. Might have mentioned Harry Hill a few times. That’s the way we are. We’re good mates. He gives it. I take it. I give it. He takes it. There’s nothing more to it than that.”
Westwood was tinder box dry and just as prone to combustion, revealing a competitive edge seeking an outlet. Westwood finished 10th last year and second here in 2000. Beyond that zip.
“I’ve played well here but not put four rounds together in recent years. There’s no reason for it. I actually love playing the course. It’s a tough one to explain. I suppose that’s why golf is great.”
Rory McIlroy could pen his own treatise on the vicissitudes of golf. He has been trying to put his Masters collapse behind him, but that green jacket will not leave him alone.
Charl Schwartzel, the man who ran from the McIlroy bonfire holding the Masters title, shot the Northern Irishman an emerald reminder at Tuesday’s awards dinner.
McIlroy answered in the affirmative when asked if the sight of Schwartzel parading on stage in his green jacket triggered his envy glands. “Yeah, of course. It’s tough, but, you know, I’m a big boy. I’ll get over it. I could go to the US Open in a few weeks and it might all be forgotten.”
McIlroy is out on Thursday with Matteo Manassero and Darren Clarke, a winner in Majorca a fortnight ago. Westwood is partnered by Alvaro Quiros and Retief Goosen while Donald tees up with Graeme McDowell and defending champion Simon Khan.



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