Wentworth stages the European Tour’s flagship event this week, the BMW PGA Championship, and with English players having a rock-solid recent record, we’ll look for the best home contenders in the betting.
When we mention a ‘home winner’, there’s one Englishman who really takes that term to the limit.
If there’s going to be a fifth English winner in ten years then Ross Fisher has as much reason to believe it will be him as anyone else.
The five-time European Tour winner spent his youth playing around Wentworth and knows this place like the back of his hand, even allowing for the various redesigns that have gone on over the years.
Fisher was runner-up here in 2009 and again contended last year, shooting rounds of 69 and 68 on his way to a share of ninth spot.
The 37-year-old often manages to get his name on the leaderboard in marquee events on either side of the Atlantic and his knowledge of this course is invaluable. He arrives in Surrey having made the cut and played efficiently in the Players’ Championship at Sawgrass, a course much less inclined to suit his game.
Fisher can also be backed at 17/1 in the Top Englishman market, with four places each-way.
Ian Poulter is known in Ryder Cup circles as ‘The Postman’ owing to the fact that he always delivers in the biennial event when needed for Europe.
This year however he’s become the Renaissance man in his own career.
Poulter, now 42, was in danger of slipping off the radar but he’s enjoyed a remarkable return to form and can now harbour a strong desire of getting into Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup team for Paris later in the year.
An excellent run at the WGC Matchplay looked to have cemented Poulter’s return to the Masters at Augusta only for him to miss out in agonising fashion, having been informed prior to his last-eight loss to Kevin Kisner that he’d done enough.
A lesser character might have crumbled but Poulter took it as a challenge and he duly won the Houston Open a week later, his third career PGA Tour win and first in more than five years. It was a remarkable display of mental strength.
His record at Wentworth isn’t a great one, with just one top-ten finish in the last ten years but, if the course plays tough, that will suit Poulter’s grinding style and, in Ryder Cup year, he knows a big finish here could edge him closer to Paris. His play this year suggests he’s capable of a challenge.
At just 23, Matthew Fitzpatrick is the youngest in our trio of English contenders going to Wentworth but he’s already well on his way to becoming a star-name in this game.
Since his British Masters win in 2015, Fitzpatrick has added three more European Tour wins, with the highlight being his 2016 win in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
It is perhaps disappointing that he’s not added a title since the Omega European Masters in September 2017 but that is maybe judging him harshly on his tender years.
The ‘getting to know you’ period with Wentworth ended last year in spectacular fashion as Fitzpatrick closed out his second start in the PGA with a sizzling Sunday 66, enough to propel him inside the top ten.
My bet is that it will spur him on to greater things on this iconic layout and he’s one of a strong English cast going into this week that just about remains overpriced in the betting.
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