Wentworth to welcome strong PGA Championship field

Luke Donald
Donald has not finished outside the top 10 in eight tournaments since February

BMW PGA Championship

Venue:
Wentworth
Date:
Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 May
Coverage:
Thursday & Friday: 1800-2000 delayed coverage of last two hours on Red Button/online plus highlights BBC2, BBC HD & online 2320-0020; Saturday & Sunday: 1430-1700 live on BBC2, BBC and online. Updates on 5 live and leaderboard online

The most competitive field in the history of the PGA Championship comes together this week at Wentworth.

All four major champions, all but the injured Padraig Harrington from last year's European Ryder Cup team, and all but Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker from the world's top nine are involved.

Any one of current world number one Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer could end on top of the world rankings.

And Donald, with eight straight top 10 finishes, is well tipped to impress.

His run started with his triumph in the WGC Match Play in Arizona in February and the Englishman could even miss the halfway cut on Friday and still take over at the top of the rankings, if Westwood and Kaymer have bad weeks as well.

"I think I'm the most consistent [player in the world] right now," said the Englishman, second in the rankings. "I think I've proven that over the last few months."

The 33-year-old does, however, come into the tournament on the back of a disappointing defeat by compatriot Ian Poulter in last weekend's Volvo World Match Play.

"I had the tournament kind of in my hands and I let it go," he said.

"Last week was extremely disappointing and it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth to finish second - I'd rather have lost in the first round in a way, although that's a little bit extreme.

"You think about what went wrong - it was just fatigue - what you could have done differently and hopefully you learn.

"But I don't drag previous weeks to the next week. By the time I tee off I'll be ready to go."

Rory McIlroy, still smarting from his Masters implosion last month, is also in the field.

The 22-year-old is determined to make up for his Augusta slump after having to watch Charl Schwartzel, the man who took advantage to take the Green Jacket, receiving the applause on stage at the European Tour's awards ceremony on Tuesday night.

"It definitely hurt me a little bit," said the Northern Irishman, who went from four ahead to 10 behind with a nightmare last-round 80 last month. "It's tough, but I'm a big boy - I'll get over it."

Current world number one Westwood finished runner-up to Colin Montgomerie in 2000 but since then his best finish is last year's 10th place, something he is determined to remedy.

"Sometimes you just can't explain it," said the 38-year-old Englishman.

"Why play well in October in the World Match Play and make umpteen birdies and then here in May, your best finish is second?"

The European Tour's flagship event is open to the world's top 50, but the only Americans in the field are John Daly and Anthony Kang, who are ranked 818th and 489th respectively.

"I suppose that's the only slightly disappointing thing for the week," added Westwood. "It would be nice to see a few of the younger Americans come over and support the event.

"It's a massive tournament, lots of money, a prestigious title and there's loads of world ranking points."

South African Ernie Els, who has a property on the Wentworth estate, has made changes to the course ahead of the tournament following criticism last year.

And Westwood, Donald, McIlroy and US Open champion Graeme McDowell have all spoken out in favour of the changes, to the eighth, 15th and 18th holes.

"The changes certainly fit my eye," said McDowell. "The tweaks are a huge improvement.

"The 15th is a big improvement as well. He has opened up the left side of the fairway which is now letting you be more aggressive off the tee.

"There are some strong winds forecast for the first round so the course will be quite a test."

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