2017 BWM PGA Championship Review
The European Tour will have moved on with a skip in their step after Alex Noren’s amazing final round of 62 to clinch the biggest win of his career at the BMW PGA Championship. The win was all the more impressive as a $7 million prize fund drew a field including four former world number ones, nine major champions, 12 of the top 35 in the Official World Golf Rankings and nine of the European Ryder Cup players from Hazeltine.
You will be hard pressed to find any negative comments from the players regarding the work done by Ernie Els’ design team on the West Course revamp. Prior to the event, the general consensus was many of the changes such as the removal of a quarter of the bunkers and resurfacing of the greens were going to make the course easier and result in lower scores. This didn’t come to fruition as the Harry Colt layout proved to be a demanding yet fair test with Noren the only player to truly overcome it thanks to his magnificent display on the final day.
Wentworth enjoyed a record attendance for the four days of competition with 109,684 people attending as well as a further 19,723 people for the star studded pro-am day on Wednesday. This was undoubtedly helped by the (almost) perfect weather and strong field but the tournament also provided a vast range of activities for the more casual golf observer. As well as music playing while players warmed up on the range, there was also live music on Saturday and Sunday in the Championship Village. Crowds of people stayed after the golf despite the weather to see Status Quo and The Kaiser Chiefs which bolstered food, beverage and merchandise sales until 8pm at night.
The event was the perfect platform to kick off the inaugural Rolex Series. The next tournament in the eight-event series will take place at the end of June which will signal the start of a four week stretch consisting of; the Open de France at Le Golf National – host of the 2018 Ryder Cup – The Irish Open at Portstewart and The Scottish Open at Dundonald Links leading into The Open Championship at Birkdale. The Rolex Series events will provide the perfect preparation for players to readjust to the nuances of links golf which they’ll face at Birkdale for The Open. It therefore will be of little surprise to see a continuation of the strong field and resulting record attendances seen at Wentworth, repeated in the other Rolex Series events this summer.
Worryingly for Keith Pelley there have been murmurs of a shake up in the global golf calendar in the not too distant future. The PGA Tour are keen to move the USPGA Championship from August to May in order to avoid a TV coverage clash with the start of the NFL season. The knock on effect of this for the BMW PGA would have to consider moving the European Tour’s flagship event to September time. This would be a real issue for the BMW PGA as it would be in direct competition with the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoff events. Despite the increase in prize fund, the European Tour would struggle attract the leading players in the game with what is on offer in the US at that time of year.