Donald hopes Wentworth positivity can kick-start season
Published 26/05/2016 | 02:30
When Luke Donald won the BMW PGA Championship five years ago to scale the summit of golf's rankings, there were seven members of the world's top 10 in the Wentworth field. This year there is just one representative of that elite, with the 2011 and 2012 champion having spiralled to No 76.
Donald's demise can be charted alongside that of this one-time Surrey spectacular. The European Tour does not even call this tournament their 'flagship event' any more, with Keith Pelley, the new chief executive, sniffing at that moniker, as its £3.8 million purse is more than £700,000 shy of the PGA Tour's corresponding Dean & Deluca Invitational in Fort Worth, which does not even qualify as Texas's flagship event.
While Pelley is promising "big things" and, more to the point, renovated greens and bolstered prize money to return this 71-year-old tournament to its former glory, Donald has also shown definite signs of re-establishing his credentials. And how appropriate it would be if the 38-year-old could make a significant leap on the West Course.
Donald has recent form, with a tie for second at Hilton Head last month followed by another week in contention in San Antonio, and he certainly boasts course form. As well as his back-to-back wins - which, on both occasions, saw him rise to world No 1 - he has two thirds and a second.
With Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia absent, Donald recognises the opportunity. He is aiming to jump back into the world's top 60 to qualify for next month's US Open, and the top 50 to earn a berth in July's Open Championship.
"This is an event I've had some previous success at and feel comfortable at," he said. "I would love to have a good week and if I could even throw in a win, it would go a long way towards my goals. I'm excited; there is a lot on offer."
Shane Lowry leads the way for the Irish contingent when he tees it up at 8am. The Offaly man is joined in the field by Graeme McDowell, Michael Hoey, Darren Clarke, Colm Moriarty, Eamonn Brady, David Higgins and Paul McGinley.
BMW PGA Championship, Live, Sky Sports 4, 10.00am
Dean and Deluca Invitational, Live, Sky Sports 4, 9.00pm