Wednesday 17 January 2018

Martin Kaymer stands up for BMW PGA Championship

Martin Kaymer believes the BMW PGA Championship remains the European Tour's flagship event
Martin Kaymer believes the BMW PGA Championship remains the European Tour's flagship event

Martin Kaymer believes the BMW PGA Championship remains the European Tour's flagship event, despite criticism from within and the absence of some of Europe's star players.

Former champions Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey, as well as Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia, are not in the field at Wentworth this week.

And even the man who oversaw a controversial redesign of the West Course, four-time major winner Ernie Els, has opted not to contest an event staged on the estate where he used to live.

Speaking ahead of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last November, European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said he wanted to see the BMW PGA Championship offering more prize money than its current ''unacceptable'' 5million euros (£3.9m).

''A lot of people talk about Wentworth as being a flagship event,'' Pelley said. ''Wentworth is 5million euros. The other event in the US that week is 6.1. That's unacceptable. Wentworth needs to be eight to 10million dollars.

"We are continuing at Wentworth until at least 2018 and if the West Course becomes exactly what they believe it will, and we can increase the prize purse, then perhaps it can be a flagship event going forward.

''Our flagship event right here is the DP World Tour Championship, which is eight million dollars (£5.5m) plus a bonus prize.''

Former world number one Kaymer does not agree with Pelley's opinion, telling Press Association Sport: " If you consider the field, I wouldn't agree because there is a full field of 140 players and Dubai is a little different (restricted to the top 60 on the Race to Dubai).

"In terms of prize money and world ranking points it's pretty much the same - I just think there is so much more history behind the PGA. It's a big event.

"I've won majors, World Golf Championship events, The Players Championship and all those things, but to win the flagship event in Europe and not only on the PGA Tour would be great for my resume."

Kaymer goes into the event on the back of a share of fifth in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open after equalling the lowest score of the week with a closing 65 at The K Club.

And the Ryder Cup star, who secured the vital point in the 'Miracle at Medinah' in 2012, wants the focus to be on the players who are at Wentworth, rather than the absentees, as he looks to strengthen his bid for a fourth straight appearance in the biennial contest with the United States.

" A lot of people only focus on the negatives and I can't wait for the questions of who's not there this week instead of focusing on who is there and seeing the event for what it is," Kaymer added.

"Danny Willett is English and the Masters champ, so hopefully people talk more about that than the guys who are not there.

" I was never a huge fan (of the course) before the changes, I'm not a huge fan now. It's an okay golf course. There are better courses in England that's for sure, but it's the home of the European Tour and it's a great event and we should see it for what it is. It's big prize money, a lot of world ranking points with a massive history.

" These weeks are massive for the Ryder Cup. I am quite far away (18th in the standings) and these weeks are big ones to get some points on the board and at least show my name, that I still have the possibility to make it."

Kaymer has missed the cut just once in nine consecutive appearances at Wentworth, a stark contrast to Ryder Cup team-mate Garcia, who has played the event just four times and withdrew with a knee injury after the first round in 2014.

Garcia's dislike of UK tax policy has played a large part in such infrequent visits, but it is nevertheless a shame that the charismatic 36-year-old will not be playing after claiming his ninth PGA Tour victory in the AT&T Byron Nelson on Sunday, matching the late Seve Ballesteros for the most by a Spaniard.

"I am a global player. I play the PGA Tour and the European Tour and that's not going to change," Garcia said. "I can only play so many weeks.

" As I get older... I have to make sacrifices and not play some tournaments that I would love to play but I can't, because I have to take care of my body and my mind and everything. As you get older it becomes tougher."

Press Association

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