BMW PGA Championship specials: The following bookies are going 6 places EW at Wentworth this week:
Paddy Power (£50 In Free Bets) - Bet 365 (£200 In Free Bets) - Bet Fred (£50 Free Bet) - SkyBet (£35 In Free Bets) - Victor Chandler (£25 Free Bet) - Stan James (£25 Free Bet) - Boylesports (£20 Free Bet) - 888 Sport (£15 Free Bet)
Rewind 12 months and we find a week where the bookies made an absolute killing in this event. Eventual winner Simon Khan sneaked into the field as an eleventh hour sponsor's invitation for the 2010 renewal, a fact which bypassed most bookies and punters alike - in fact on a couple of bookies were even quoting a price on the 200/1 shot. The bookies paid out a pittance...time to exact some revenge this year then!!
Wentworth proved to be somewhat of a tougher challenge following Ernie Els' tweaks to the Harry Colt classic. In the end only 13 players broke par after 72 holes and a winning score of 6-under was good enough for Englishman Khan. A year on and we should expect more of the same, albeit with some changes to 18 making it a more viable to option to attempt to hit the green in 2 shots. The fly in the ointment this week could well be the weather with low pressure pushing in on Thursday meaning wind and rain, at least for the start of the event.
So what do we know? The course plays as a par 71 over 7,261 yards with the 12th now a long par 4 after Els' changes, however the course still retains the unique double par 5 finish. The greens were re-laid with bentgrass before last year's event and the bunkers toughened up, however accurate driving is still the key to success on Wentworth's tight, tree lined fairways as wayward tee shots are likely to be punished severely.
For me, the winner of this event needs some significant experience of Wentworth old and new, plus a top 10 finish or more around these parts. The previous 6 winners had all played around here a number of times in competitive golf and, crucially all had at least 1 top 10 in this event prior to winning. Results from other events worthy of analysis for this include those held at Celtic Manor and Le Golf National - you'll find the results book littered with contending performances from those 6 winners on both courses over the last few years.
With 7 of the World's top 10 in attendance and nearly half of the top 40, you might expect the biggest names to be taking home the trophy come Sunday, however Wentworth has invariably produced some shock wins over the years at long prices. Favourite Luke Donald (15/2 with Bet Fred) was looking noticeably jaded after a gruelling weekend in Andalucia and you could construct a case against most of the other players at the very top of the betting, so I'll be looking a little further down the list this week:
If you're looking for a horses-for-courses player then Hansen is your man. Twice a winner of this event, his last 10 attempts have reaped 6 top-21 finishes including his 2 victories. You'll find an equally strong record at the French Open which I rate strongly here with 5 top 10s in the last decade, plus another top 10 at Celtic Manor to complete the set.
Hansen is also having a strong season, currently sitting 4th in the Race to Dubai after carding 6 top 20 finishes in his 9 starts this term, including 3 top-3 finishes in his last 6 attempts. Strong from tee to green plus an excellent putter on his day, this is a cracking chance for a hat-trick for Hansen. Result: T18
The Mechanic often comes onto my radar in high profile events on bentgrass greens - it's amazing how often he pops up in contention. However dig a little deeper and you'll see that he's perfect for this - his 2008 win here is backed up by top 10 performances in 2007,2006,2004 and 1994. In addition, wins at Celtic Manor and Le Golf National bolster his chance in my opinion. Add to that the overall quality of golf produced by the Spaniard over the last 18 months and we've got a very backable option, particularly with 6 places EW being offered by most bookies.
Jimenez currently sits 6th in the Race to Dubai with 2 runners-up finishes to his name already this season - some of his ironplay has been incredible this year and if he can reproduce the kind of approach shots we saw in Bahrain and South Korea then you can expect him to go very close indeed this week. Result: M/C
I've tipped the Scot for 3 consecutive weeks now so you'll be getting the gist that I think there's a little more to come from him yet in terms of profit! Last week could have been very different had he holed his putt on 17 versus Ian Poulter in Spain - that would have effectively knocked Poulter out and put Lawrie through to the weekend...however with a few extra days rest I'd expect Lawrie to come here ready for another big week.
Prior to the Match Play, Lawrie had enjoyed finishes of 1/5/5 from his previous 3 events and was in sparking form. Coupled with his wealth of experience here - this will be his 20th start including finishes of 2nd in 1996 and 6th last year - and his previous victory at Celtic Manor, I see no reason not to add Lawrie to the staking plan once again this week. Result: M/C
My final selection is available at a longer price due to some indifferent form this season, however the 40 year old Aussie also fits the bill here in terms of course knowledge and results. Over the last decade he's made the cut 10 consecutive times with 6 top 20 and 3 top 10 finishes to his credit...clearly he has a liking for this layout.
Having won the Portugal Masters in October Green's 2011 has been sluggish, however he showed signs of a return to form in Sicily on his penultimate start where opening rounds of 68-67 had put him into the final group on Saturday. That wasn't to be, however as one of my bentgrass positive players who has proven himself in windy conditions previously, I won't be surprised to see Green in the mix this week. Result: M/C
Odds and bookmaker offers correct 20:00BST 24.5.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.