Why you should watch the 2014 BMW PGA Championship
I watch a lot of golf. This should surprise exactly nobody who has read this blog in the past, and especially if you follow me on Twitter where I pretty much talk about golf 24/7. Chances are that if you’re reading this post, you like golf as well but perhaps you don’t pay a ton of attention to the European Tour. That’s fine, and I totally get it as a lot of the fields are pretty weak and for most people, there’s a certain amount of golf that they can watch in a week, and that usually means the PGA Tour broadcasts fill up that allotment.
Now, the PGA Tour is at Colonial this week for the Crowne Plaza, and it should be a pretty good event with a solid field, but I’d like to encourage all of you to take in this week’s BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour and I’ve got a few reasons why.
The field is fantastic
As I mentioned above, the European Tour sometimes has problems with attracting big name players to their events, in large part due to the severe gap in prize money offered between them and the PGA Tour, but this week is always different. The BMW PGA Championship is considered the European Tour’s Players Championship, with one of the higher purses on their schedule and it helps attract a lot of the big name European players who play almost exclusively these days on the PGA Tour. You can check out the full entry list here, but with names like Stenson, Garcia, McIlroy, Poulter, Rose, Schwartzel, Donald, Westwood, Jimenez, Kaymer and others, this is pretty much as good as it gets on the European Tour.
Wentworth’s West Course
All of those great players wouldn’t be coming here, regardless of the purse, if they thought the track they were playing on was substandard, and Wentworth’s West Course is far from substandard. Currently listed by Top 100 Golf Courses as the 33rd best course in the world, Wentworth opened for play back in 1926 after Harry Colt finished his design and has played host to this event since the mid 80’s, but it also hosted the HSBC World Match Play for its first 43 years of existence and the 1953 Ryder Cup, which saw Team USA defeat Team Great Britain 6 1/2 to 5 1/2.
Since the Colt design, it has been touched up twice by Ernie Els, to some unfortunately mixed reviews. Ian Poulter and Paul Casey were especially tough on the redesign, saying that the character was stripped of the course, but it’s still a joy to watch in my opinion. You can take a look at the hole-by-hole below, as narrated by the one and only Peter Alliss.
Finding a new favourite
One of the things that I harp on the most when it comes to golf coverage in North America is that there is a severe lack of attention paid to the European Tour and their players. The defending champion pictured above, Matteo Manassero, is basically the European version of Jordan Spieth, at least in the sense that they are both young phenoms with a tremendous amount of success. When Manassero won here last year, it was his fourth career victory on the European Tour at just 20 years old, and while his occasional dips into the PGA Tour waters haven’t gone great so far, he’s a tremendous young player who is worth watching.
I’ve become a big fan of Pablo Larrazabal, Peter Uihlein and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, players who I never would have seen if I wasn’t watching the PGA Tour. Before he gave Jason Day a run for his money at the Match Play, I was able to watch Victor Dubuisson win in Turkey last year when I went in with the intention of watching Tiger, Poulter and others. Who knows, if you watch this week, you might find someone else to keep an eye on that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
I know that many of you likely try and get out early to play your own rounds, especially on the weekends, but if you can’t for some reason, you’ll be able to watch in the mornings thanks to the time difference, which is always one of the underrated benefits of the Open Championship every year. TV times for Golf Channel in North America this week is as follows:
- Thursday and Friday: 5:00 AM ET to 12:00 PM ET
- Saturday and Sunday: 7:30 AM ET to 12:30 PM ET
You may not be up for watching the European Tour every week, but do try and tune in this week. It’s going to be a good time.