The BMW PGA Championship’s switch to a September date from the end of May this year was well received by the players, who were singing the praises of the West Course at Wentworth.
The course was in immaculate condition, with the changes made in 2016 now fully bedded down, and there were plenty of compliments from both veterans of the tournament and newcomers to the event.
Here’s a selection of the comments from the players….
Danny Willett: “It is a better date. Obviously for Britain, our summers are kind of going later on in the year and our winters are moving to January, February and March. To try and get this golf course in great condition in May has always been a pretty tough task for the guys.
“They have done a great job of it, but this year with that few extra months gives time for the sun to come out, the heat to come through and the growth to be more even. That’s why you’ll see some good scoring.
“You’ll see maybe a little bit more clumped up scoring this year instead of one guy playing well and jumping out because conditions are so good. We are not getting too many of them iffy lies out there and the greens are rolling really well.
“For me, I think you ask anyone out here, it’s the best condition I’ve seen it in the 10 years I’ve been here.”
Henrik Stenson: “It’s always been nice to play Wentworth. The crowd’s always been great and it’s got a lot of history of the European Tour, and it’s always nice to be back, but condition-wise, it’s certainly better in September, no question. You have a whole growing season to get the greens very good, and I think most of the players are enjoying that a lot more.”
Paul Casey: “Yeah, I think it’s a better golf course this time of year because we’ve had a full season of growth. The surfaces I think are better than when we play in May. Everything’s still blooming and growing. This is optimal. When you get to this time of year, you lose a little bit of daylight, maybe the mornings are colder, but it’s actually a better golf course. Yeah, so I prefer this.
“The golf space is crowded all around the world. There’s great events week-in, week-out, and this is a nice position I think for the event because we stand alone pretty much. There are other events going on around the world but this is by far the biggest event going on on the planet right now.
“Also, weather-wise, and then condition-wise, we had a full season of growth here and Wentworth I think plays better this time of year, it really does. This is basically a home event for me, growing up just down the road. I love being here.”
Justin Rose: “For me, it’s a bucket-list tournament and I’d love to win one day. I’ve been close a couple of times. But it’s really my home event. I’ve been watching this since I was eight-years-old, so it’s an important one for me and comes at a great time of year. I love autumn golf, so it’s nice.
“Its position now in the schedule is nice because I can focus on it a bit more. You get the whole FedExCup out of the way and you have a few weeks to freshen up mentally and you can really pinpoint it. I like its position now.”
Scott Jamieson: “I think it’s the best I’ve ever seen it, that’s for sure. The fairways are a little fuller, just growing in a little more. Perhaps the May date was just a little too early for it, especially if they had a cold spring. It’s the best I’ve ever seen it and they have done a fantastic job getting it ready.”
And from the newcomers…..
Jon Rahm: “I think it’s a great golf course. That’s why I love coming back to Europe to play these traditional-style golf courses, where they are not long, on paper, ideally, they are not overly complicated but things can get difficult for a player real quick. They make you think about it. You can be as aggressive or as conservative as you want off the tee and make it fun that way.
“I’ve been having a lot of fun playing this golf course, and I think it shows. It’s also a special place. I think we can all tell it’s a special event, a lot of history.”
Tony Finau: “Now that it’s in September, I think you’ll have more American guys fit it in their schedule. It’s at a time where we are not as busy, just coming off a little break from our Tour Championship.
“The way I looked at it, that was the case for sure. Now that it’s in September, it’s a tournament I may add to my schedule in years to come.
“The weather’s been beautiful. You can’t beat this, 70 degrees and not too breezy. It’s been great. It’s been a fun visit. My wife’s here with me and we enjoyed the area of London. The fans have been great. The golf course in good conditions. No complaints here.”