Els Feels Right at Home at Wentworth


The European Tour gears up for one of the tour's flagship events as a star-studded field descends upon Wentworth Clubs West Course in Surrey, England, for the BMW Championship.
Formerly the Volvo PGA Championship, the newly named event can boast one of the strongest fields of the year outside of the Open Championship in July.
Ernie Els, who owns a home on the estate and just recently accepted the club's offer to become its official touring professional, will be in search of his first title at the event. The Big Easy has put together a solid resume here despite never winning it outright. The last two years he placed 7th and 4th to go along with his three other runner-up finishes, coming back in 1994, '97 and '98.
That's not to say Els hasn't tasted success on this course, as shown by his remarkable three straight wins in the HSBC World Match Play Championship, which are played on the same course as this week's tournament.
A win by Els would put him into lofty company as far as past champions of this event are concerned. The list of former winners reads like a who's who of the recent history of the European Tour.
Six-time major winner Nick Faldo holds the mark for most wins in this event with four, though his last victory came back in 1989. Faldo is followed by Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, who won three straight titles here from 1998 to 2000. They are joined by Euro legends Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, Ian Woosnam and Germany's Bernhard Langer. All but Olazabal have at least two victories under their belt.
Faldo, Woosnam, Olazabal and Monty are all entered this week.
And although the history of winners is impressive, the past four years have generated champions that aren't on the same level as the aforementioned group. Scott Drummond, Ignacio Garrido, Anders Hansen and Andrew Oldcorn have each come out from behind the shadows of some of the world's best to claim the last four titles.
But that won't likely happen again with the likes Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, David Howell, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Thomas Levet, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood all shooting to bring home one of the biggest purses of the year.
Last year Drummond fired a final-round 8-under 64 to edge claim his first-ever European Tour victory. He is back to try to defend the title.
The total purse is $5,031,450 with a first-place check of $838,718.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - BMW Championship