BMW PGA Championship: European Tour flagship event fabulous
The European Tour's flagship event shone in the sunshine at Wentworth, says Ewen Murray.
Last Updated: 28/05/14 4:24pm
Having endured the heavy rains and storms that caused delays over the first few days, the spring sunshine made an appearance on Sunday and the European Tour enjoyed arguably its finest hour.
The BMWPGA Championship is a notch behind the four major events and on a par with The Players at Sawgrass and no question, the fans play a huge part in that.
The pictures beamed from the 18th fairway, looking to the green and the packed grandstand, was quite a sight and all of those involved in presenting this fabulous event must have felt great pride.
I have been a member of the PGA and the European Tour for over forty years. Back then, they were very humble beginnings as the Tour tried to build foundations for the vision they had. On Sunday, I believe that vision came to fruition.
With many of the world's top players in the field, it came down to two former world number ones, a 15 time winner and a player who won on the Tour as an amateur.
Head to head, toe to toe, they delivered some of the finest golf you could ever wish to see to set up a nail biting finish.
Thomas Bjorn, who at 43 is playing the best golf of his career, slipped in the last round after setting a new course record on Thursday. Shane Lowry was punished severely for one errant tee shot, Luke Donald the same. But coming home on the crest of a wave, Rory McIlroy showed why he enjoys superstar status.
Limiting himself to four pars and five birdies on the back nine he surged from
seven behind overnight to secure his first victory on European soil.
His swashbuckling style had whipped the galleries into a frenzy and the standing ovation he was given at the 72nd hole was fitting of the sensational performance.
The week had started badly with Rory looking like a boy lost after announcing to the media that he had called off the proposed wedding to his fiancé, tennis star, Caroline Wozniacki.
Baring his soul to the world, you just wanted to put your arm around him. Rory is as honest a lad as you could ever wish to meet and to see him hurting was sad.
Caroline of course went through the same emotions. Both are a credit to their parents and their respective sports and of course time will heal the wounds. Nobody knows what the future holds.They may get back together and form a stronger relationship. If they don't, then perhaps it was never meant to be and it's best to find that out now. Having been in their company, they are two special people and I wish them the best for their futures.
The PGA had their own hero in Mark Hooper. The various regions around the country have their order of merits and for those who reach the summit, they earn their invitations to Wentworth. I've never met Mark.
He worked at a driving range for eleven years before becoming the head pro at the Rayliegh Golf Club in Essex. He made the cut comfortably and I found myself looking at the scoring computer during the broadcast to see how he was doing.
For a club pro to play in such a prestigious event is uplifting and make no mistake, this was Mark's major. On Sunday, he was paired with the US Open champion Justin Rose. That simply is living the dream. Hooper finished in the top 40 which was a highly creditable performance.
His earnings for his good play in the East Region was £12,000, the cheque he took home from Wentworth was double that. His play added much to Wentworth as the BMW enjoyed its "Tin Cup" moment.
Mark will be back in Essex teaching as per normal this week, but at 30 years of age, some ambition may have been stirred by his excellent performance alongside the stars of today. We may see him on tour again in the future.
The new PGA chairman is David Murchie, the head professional at Crieff golf club, a short drive from Gleneagles, the venue for this year's Ryder Cup. David succeeds Phil Weaver who held that position for twenty five years.
Crieff has a rich tradition of supplying people who have gone onto achieve much in the game. John Stark was professional there for many years and gave a huge amount of his time to golfers and the PGA. Ken Schofield was a bank manager in the town before heading South to spearhead the then, new European Tour.
David is a golf professional through and through and he will make an excellent chairman. It's a high position in the sport, a position he richly deserves.
While the Flagship event was taking place in Surrey, the PGA Tour were having their own glory at Fort Worth in Texas. Adam Scott edged out USPGA Champion, Jason Dufner in a thrilling finish at The Colonial Country Club which was one the haunts of the legendary Ben Hogan.
The game has missed the excitement Tiger Woods presents and it needs someone to take the sport by the scruff of the neck. What a great time for Adam and Rory to return to winning ways and if Tiger recovers fully quickly enough to play in the year's final three majors, we are in for a very interesting spell on the fairways of the world.
Henrik Stenson is close to his best, Luke Donald is more comfortable with the changes that were made to his swing in the winter and with the young players in America are making rapid progress. Halcyon days are ahead.
Meanwhile, by Harbor Shores in Michigan, Sky Sports Colin Montgomerie finally landed the major that eluded him during his regular career.
The last thing I wanted to do when I got home from Wentworth was to watch more golf on TV, but I pressed the red button and followed Monty all the way round. The golf he, Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer produced was of a very high quality. Colin has always been a good driver of the ball and because of that his iron shots are played from the ideal positions.
Last week he had the full package. His pitching and putting was sound and he had a calmness that was too often missing as a younger man.
His determination and will to win fascinates me. His desire is as strong as it was when he turned professional. Maybe this PGA Senior win will lead to more success and he will be in the field for the year's final major at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky in August.
His only poor shot of last week came at the 18th when his pulled approach clattered the
grandstand, yet the ball shot out of there and found the middle of the green. Ironic perhaps when you look back at his near misses. The wind dropped at Pebble Beach 22 years ago when he was in the clubhouse with what looked a winning score. He was second in our Open at St Andrews and his close calls at Winged Foot and Oakmont may well hurt to this day. Maybe the golfing God's decided he was due something.
Having won the BMWPGA at Wentworth three years in a row, he missed that event for the first time in quarter of a century. A rather fitting week to finally become, Major Montgomerie.
Not long until the US Open. We shall discuss that at the end of next week.