Far and few
The globalisation of the European Tour means few events will ever be staged in Britain, says Rob Lee.
Last Updated: 23/05/12 3:47pm
The European Tour hosts its flagship event this week and the BMW PGA Championship should be top quality all the way.
BMW have invested a lot of money in this tournament over the years to help produce an event of this calibre. There's big prize money, big crowds and a lot of prestige. Plus, it looks like the weather is going to be fantastic
They've made changes to Wentworth this year to make it more interesting for the players. The 12th is now a par five and the hitting area at 18 has been widened to encourage more people go for the green in two.
So it's all set up nicely. Just as every American player wants to win the Players Championship, so every European player wants to win here.
It's all set up for a very good tournament.
Luke Donald has suggested more Americans should make the trip to experience Wentworth and take part in such a big event, which is an interesting viewpoint.
Luke is a PGA Tour member and plays in the Players Championship, but there aren't really any top-quality Americans with membership of the European Tour. There are a couple of players, like Ben Curtis, playing well over here but the likes of Phil Mickelson aren't here.
For me, that doesn't matter one jot and I don't think it matters to the players. If we get an international visitor, it's all well and good, but this is a championship for the European Tour players and it doesn't lose anything if some big American players don't turn up.
And of course, the top three players in the world are all here, so this tournament is well catered for in terms of quality.
Donald has also been saying he'd like to see more big tournaments in Britain and of course, that would be wonderful - but it's never easy. We don't have sponsors lining up to pump in the money that is needed. Just look at the fact that we have a German company sponsoring the PGA Championship this week!
Tournament golf in Britain has been on the decline for some time and when sponsors drop away it is very hard to replace them. The game seems to be moving towards an international scene, rather than a domestic scene and that's the way it is.
The European Tour was initially a very British thing before continental Europe became increasingly involved. Nowadays they are expanding to the Far East and Australia and it has become an international tour.
Yes it would be nice to have more events in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, but I don't think that's going to change. The notion of playing lots of events over here simply isn't going to happen.
Playing-wise, Donald must be feeling very good about his return to Wentworth.
He went there with everything on the line last year as he and Lee Westwood battled for the world number one spot. He turned him over in the last few holes and won the event in a play-off, so he should feel like a million dollars when he returns.
Wentworth seems to suit his game and he has shown great form here in the past, so you'd have to say he's the favourite. Having been deposed as the world number one by Rory McIlroy, he'll be looking for another victory to regain that position.
A great rivalry has emerged between Donald, Westwood and McIlroy and for watchers, bloggers and lovers of golf it's great fun to witness.
McIlroy is only the third favourite this week and that's simply because Luke and Lee have played well here many, many times. But don't overlook Rory. He's had a couple of disappointing tournaments, but his run before that was extraordinary and I'm sure he's looking to play well in this event.
You can look at people like Robert Karlsson and Charl Schwartzel to do well here, too. I think you're looking for someone who hits it high, although it must be noted that they are predicting some breeze at the weekend.
It won't just be a grip-it-and-rip-it merchant that comes out on top; the winner will be somebody who can consider his way around the golf course. You need to think your way around Wentworth, particularly in the breeze.
Personally I don't think you can look much further than the top three.
ROB'S SKY BET TIPS
BMW PGA Championship: Luke Donald has to be the favourite. This event has been defended before and Wentworth tends to treat you well once you've figured it out. You often see players come back and do well time and time again and he can go into this week full of confidence.
Crowne Plaza Invitational: Colonial is quite a tricky golf course. David Toms won there last year, who is a ball striker, and I'm going to go for Hunter Mahan who is from a similar mould. His game is built around fairways and greens and I think this could be his week.