Els Feeling Right at Home


European TourThe European Tour gathers this week at the famed Wentworth Club in Surrey, England, for one of the biggest tournaments of the year - The BMW Championship.
Befitting the largest purse outside the Open Championship, the entry list is a virtual who's who of European Tour stars past and present headlined by a long list of big names including four of the top-10 ranked players in the world in Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott and Luke Donald.
Els, who owns a home on the course and was a part of the redesign of the West Course, returns to the site of some of his biggest career wins, albeit not in this particular event. Els won a record six HSBC World Match Play titles here at Wentworth but hopes to end his drought at the BMW Championship. Although winless, the affable South African has nevertheless compiled quite a record with five top-5 finishes including three runner-up efforts.
Without a win thus far in 2006 and currently ranked 72nd on the PGA TOUR for putting average, Els hopes his familiarity with the greens at his home course might do the trick.
'Last week Id gone back to one of my old Ping putters at the Byron Nelson and I putted well all through that tournament. It was a big step in the right direction, because as you know that part of my game had been letting me down pretty much all this year; but hopefully not any more,' said Els on his website. 'I mean, I really feel more like my old self on the greens; comfortable over the ball, striking the putts nicely and its good to see some putts dropping again. The important thing is Ive got back some confidence.'
Also in the field are an additional seven players ranked in the top-30 starting with the tour's reigning Order of Merit champion Colin Montgomerie. Monty, who won this title in three successive years from 1998 to 2000, will be back trying to match Nick Faldo's record of four victories in the event.
You always return to somewhere you won three years in a row with a good feeling and I have always felt very comfortable playing at Wentworth, said Monty on the tour's website. Even with the changes, I dont think that will be any different this year and I will be trying very hard to get win number four.
A player not ranked in the top-25 but who is playing just about as well as anyone is England's Paul Casey, although he may have run out of bullets. For the second time in as many weeks, the 28-year-old Casey has held at least a share of the lead heading into to the final round only to cough up the chance to win his second tour title of the season.
Someone else who should feel quite at home this week is another one of England's young stars in Donald. Playing primarily on the PGA TOUR in the U.S., Donald will be making his European Tour debut for the season and doing it just down the road from where he grew up. Raised just 30 miles from Wentworth Club in High Wycombe, Donald, who won twice on the European Tour back in the 2004 season, already has one victory this year coming at the Honda Classic in March.
Last year's champion Angel Cabrera is also back to defend his title and a shot at the $909,306 first-place check from the $5,454,895 purse.
The Golf Channel will televise all four rounds live beginning Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - BMW Championship
  • Golf Channel Airtimes