The European Tour travels from Denmark to England for this week’s BMW PGA Championship – the tour’s flagship event, as its season officially kicks into high gear with the first of five Rolex Series events over the next 10 weeks to close out the 2019 campaign.
Contested at venerable Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey (UK), the BMW will feature a top-flight field, headlined by world Nos. 2, 4, and 6 – Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, and Jon Rahm, respectively.
Defending champion Francesco Molinari will co-headline in his return, and will be joined by a bevy of additional top-ranked stars such as Tony Finau, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed, and Shane Lowry, among others.
All told, 20 of the world’s top-50 ranked players are in the field this week.
Here’s the rest of what you’ll need to know to prep for the 2019 BMW PGA Championship.
Tournament: BMW PGA Championship
Dates: Sep. 19-22, 2019
Where: Virginia Water, Surrey, England
Course: Wentworth (West)
Distance: Par 72, 7400 yards
Architect: Harry Colt and Ernie Els
Format: 132 players, 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,166,660
Defending Champion: Francesco Molinari
Other Marquee Players: Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace, Henrik Stenson, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Billy Horschel, Branden Grace, Haotong Li, Alexander Levy, Shane Lowry
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Founded in 1955 as the British PGA Championship, the tournament is the European Tour’s flagship event, and annually contested at the historic Wentworth Club – home of the European PGA Tour.
As a Rolex Series event, the tournament offers a hefty $7,00,000 purse with the winner receiving over $1 million in prize money along with 64 Official World Golf Ranking points. An invite to next month’s U.S. Open, as well as the next three British Opens, is also awarded to the champion.
The host venue is the Wentworth Club’s West Course, an historic design first brought to life in 1926 by one of the game’s legendary architects, Harry Colt. Modernization efforts have been undertaken led by Ernie Els three times in the last dozen years.
No one has had more success at this event than Sir Nick Faldo, who claimed four titles over a 12-year stretch, highlighted by three victories in a four-year span (1978, 1980, and 1981).
Another great English player, Colin Montgomerie, has a singular claim of his own, as he’s the only player to have won this event three consecutive years, from 1998-2000.
Along the way, a slew of other golf greats have added British PGA titles to their resumes, including three-time winners Peter Allis and Bernhard Langer, two-time champs Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam, Luke Donald, and Tony Jacklin. Other big name winners include Arnold Palmer, Angel Cabrera, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy.
2007-18: BMW PGA Championship
2005-06: BMW Championship
1988-04: Volvo PGA Championship
1984-87: Whyte & Mackay PGA Championship
1980-83: Sun Alliance PGA Championship
1978-79: Colgate PGA Championship
1975-77: Penfold PGA Championship
1972-74: Viyella PGA Championship
1967-71: Schweppes Open
1961-66: Schweppes PGA Close Championship
1955-60: PGA Close Championship
2018: Francesco Molinari (-17)
2017: Alex Noren (-11)
2016: Chris Wood (-9)
2015: An Byeong Hun (-21)
2014: Rory McIlroy (-14)
2013: Matteo Manassero (-10)
2012: Luke Donald (-15)
2011: Luke Donald (-6)
-21 An Byeong Hun (2015)
4 – Sir Nick Faldo (1978, ’80, ’81, ’89)
3 – Peter Alliss (1957, ’62, ’65)
3 – Bernhard Langer (1987, ’93, ’95)
3 – Colin Montgomerie (1998-2000)
Francesco Molinari produced bogey-free final-round 68 at Wentworth to win the 2018 BMW PGA Championship by two strokes over Rory McIlroy.
The 35-year old Italian entered Sunday with a share of the lead with McIlroy but after birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 he went up two and never looked back. A pair of gains on Nos. 8 and 12 gave Molinari a four-shot edge, and allowed him to cruise home with six-straight pars to sign for a four-day score of 17-under par total.
McIlroy birdied Nos. 17 and 18 to post a 70 and get to 15-under par, one clear of defending champion Alex Noren (67) and Dane Lucas Bjerregaard (65).
The win was Molinari’s first Rolex Series title, and fifth career European Tour victory, which places him alongside Costantino Rocca as the most successful Italian in Tour history.
Final Top 5
1 Francesco Molinari -17
2 Rory McIlroy -15
3 Lucas Bjerregaard -14
3 Alex Noren -14
5 Kiradech Aphibarnrat -13
5 Branden Grace -13
Full Field & Odds
The full field with world rankings, and odds.
Top 5 Favorites
1. Rory McIlroy (5-1)
2. Jon Rahm (10-1)
3. Paul Casey (14-1)
4. Justin Rose (16-1)
5. Tommy Fleetwood (20-1)
Credits: European Tour Media, Getty Images