Crunching numbers


If you’re not an avid follower of the European Tour this should be the week you tune in. It’s one of the European Tour’s premiere events, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Five of the top-10 players in the world are teeing it up in what could be the strongest field that the tournament has ever seen.

Topping the list is Lee Westwood who assumed his position as world No. 3 this week. The Englishman is playing in his home country and is gunning to continue his rise in the standings. The race to the world’s new No. 1 is on. And it seems inevitable that the man who has held the top spot for the last 258 consecutive weeks (600 total in his career) will lose that position sometime in the near future.

As Tiger Woods remains absent from competition, he continues to lose points and the gap is closing. And the players in the field at Wentworth are ready to strike hot.

Ernie Els has held the No. 1 position for nine weeks in his career and after two victories this season, and a tie for third last week, he sits seventh in the rankings. Couple his form with the fact that he redesigned the West Course at Wentworth – and we’re talking a complete and total transformation with all 18 greens re-modeled – Els could be lethal this week.

The defending champion is world No. 8 Paul Casey, with No. 9 Rory McIlroy also in the mix. And let’s not forget No. 6 Ian Poulter, who has done the math on the race to world domination. According to Poulter, if he wins the BMW he’d move to 5th in the world. “Just .35 of a point off No. 4 and closer to the goal,” he said.

There’s no doubt the No. 1 prize is on the mind of the top players in the BMW field. But there are other storylines floating around out there as well. It’s the last week for players to get inside the top-50 in the world to earn entry into the U.S. Open field. And Ryder Cup points are on the line as well.

It’ll be an action-packed week across the pond. So fry up some fish and chips and tune in. Golf Channel has four round coverage beginning Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.