Luke Donald's European Ryder Cup team will all be in one place this week as the home squad takes to the 2023 BMW PGA Championship. Known as the DP World Tour's flagship event, the tournament at Wentworth has had a way of awarding worthy champions with the likes of Shane Lowry, Billy Horschel and Tyrrell Hatton all raising the trophy by week's end in recent memory.
With all 12 of the European Ryder Cup members in the field, it is FedEx Cup champion Viktor Hovland who leads the betting action. Fresh off winning the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship in consecutive weeks, the man who is now $21 million richer has his eyes set on another trophy.
In order to do so, he will need to take down many of the same names he did at East Lake including Rory McIlroy. McIlroy finished in poor fashion last week at the Irish Open with a final round 74 and looks to make amends in his final start before the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone. He is joined by Spaniard Jon Rahm and Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Hatton as those listed below 20-1 at the onset of the week.
2023 BMW PGA Championship odds leaders
- Viktor Hovland: +650
- Rory McIlroy: +700
- Jon Rahm: +850
- Tommy Fleetwood: +1200
- Matt Fitzpatrick: +1600
- Tyrrell Hatton: +1800
- Shane Lowry: +2000
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2023 BMW PGA Championship: What to know
Shane Lowry got the better of a list of heavy hitters in 2022 by winning the tournament by one stroke at 17 under over Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm. It should be noted last year's tournament was only three rounds due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. It is likely these three players are featured down the stretch this weekend in addition to Hovland, Fleetwood, Fitzpatrick and the rest of the European Ryder Cup team.
Lowry enjoyed one of his better weeks off the tee, but the main story was his iron play. He gained nearly eight strokes on approach through the four rounds and coupled it with one of the best putting performance of his season, gaining nearly another four with the flat stick.
He had previously notched four straight top 20s at Wentworth, so this didn't necessarily come out of nowhere. Other winners such as Horschel, Hatton, Francesco Molinari and Danny Willett have all enjoyed immense success around the par-72, so course history does hold some weight.
Tommy Fleetwood (14-1): The Englishman has played too well in 2023 to go without a win. He arrives with top-20 finishes in three of his last five BMW PGA Championship appearances, including finishes of T-12 and T-13 the last two times four rounds were played. Over the last three months, he trails only Hovland and McIlroy in terms of total strokes gained and is the only player in this field to rank inside the top 15 in each strokes gained category during that same time. One of the most accurate drivers of the golf ball in this field, Fleetwood has all the key factors converging on a big-time win this week.
Aaron Rai (55-1): Rai has been hit-or-miss at the BMW PGA Championship with three missed cuts and finishes of T-26 and T-14 over the last five years. He may very well be the most underrated player in this field as he checks in ahead of names like Ludvig Aberg, Sepp Straka, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry in total strokes gained over the last three months. In fact, Rai ranks ninth in total strokes gained and fourth in strokes gained tee to green over that span and should give himself a real chance to nab another Rolex Series event.
- Rory McIlroy (18-1)
- Tommy Fleetwood (25-1)
- Aaron Rai (55-1)
There is a lot of luster around Hovland at the moment, and rightfully so, but McIlroy has been the best player in the world since the PGA Championship. Over the last three months, he ranks first in total strokes gained, first in strokes gained tee to green, first in strokes gained off the tee, first in driving distance and second in approach among those in the field. Wanting some exposure to the Northern Irishman, I believe the first round is where money is best put alongside outright selections of Fleetwood and Rai.
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