Not to be confused with the US PGA Championship, the BMW PGA Championship is a tournament played on the European Tour in September or October in Britain.
First played in 1955, the BMW PGA Championship was held a a number of courses including Royal Birkdale, Prince’s, Royal Mid-Surrey and Royal St George’s before becoming a permanent fixture at Wentworth in Surrey, the headquarters of the PGA European Tour, since 1984.
The BMW PGA Championship is the European Tour’s flagship event. It is fitting therefore that it has been won by so many top class golfers over the years. Everybody involved in the tournament was delighted that trend continued post the 2016 renovations with Francesco Molinari and Alex Noren winning in 2018 and 2017 respectively. Chris Wood and Rory McIlroy were both at the peak of their powers for their wins whilst An Byeong-hun used his win to launch a successful career on both the European and PGA Tours.
|Wentworth Golf Club||Virginia Water, England||7,267 Yards||$8,000,000|
BMW PGA Championship Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin||Course|
|2021||Billy Horschel||-19||1 Stroke||Wentworth Golf Club|
|2020||Tyrrell Hatton||-19||4 Strokes||Wentworth Golf Club|
|2019||Danny Willett||-20||3 Strokes||Wentworth Golf Club|
|2018||Francesco Molinari||-17||2 Strokes||Wentworth Golf Club|
|2017||Alex Noren||-11||2 Strokes||Wentworth Golf Club|
|2016||Chris Wood||-9||1 Stroke||Wentworth Golf Club|
|2015||An Byeong-hun||-21||6 Strokes||Wentworth Golf Club|
|2014||Rory McIlroy||-14||1 Stroke||Wentworth Golf Club|
|2013||Matteo Manassero||-10||Playoff||Wentworth Golf Club|
|2012||Luke Donald||-15||4 Strokes||Wentworth Golf Club|
|2011||Luke Donald||-6||Playoff||Wentworth Golf Club|
Wentworth Golf Club
Wentworth Golf Club is one of the most important golf courses in Britain. It is a totally different beast to the historic links courses dotted around the British coast. But is arguably the most revered heathland course in the country. It is one of the most storied and exclusive golf clubs in the world and the home of the European Tour’s headquarters. Wentworth has also been the sole host of the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event, since 1984. The chance play on the West Course is enough in itself to attract world class players to this tournament every year.
The West Course was originally a Harry Colt design which produced a well-rounded test of golf for the members over the decades. In the early 2000s, however, the club believed that it was becoming too much of a pushover for the world’s best professionals. That prompted a major renovation of the West Course overseen by Ernie Els. Unfortunately, the changes made to toughen Wentworth up went down badly with both members and pros so more extensive work was undertaken immediately after Chris Wood sunk the winning putt in the 2016 BMW PGA Championship.
This latest work saw the course returned to the test envisaged by Colt whilst ensuring that it is a tough enough test for the European Tour. Over 20 bunkers were removed, the greens on nine holes were either completely changed or altered, and a sub-air system was installed under all of the putting surfaces. Additionally, the greens were changed to pure Bentgrass so as to keep them rolling true throughout the day. Also some approaches to the greens were opened up so that players could run their approach shots onto the putting surfaces. This was deemed more in-keeping with Colt’s original design.
About the BMW PGA Championship
One of the most prestigious events on the European Tour is the BMW PGA Championship, which takes place at Wentworth Club in Surrey, England every year. Originally called the British PGA Championship, this tournament has grown in stature over the years, especially when it was introduced as a European Tour event in 1972.
The last championship to be held outside of Surrey was the 1983 Sun Alliance PGA Championship at Royal St George’s in Kent, which was won by the great Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros. Since then, the Wentworth Club has been the worthy home of the BMW PGA Championship, with each of the last 36 being held in the English county. Note that this event should not be confused with the BMW Championship (which is the penultimate tournament of the FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour), despite the confusingly similar names.
The winner of this prestigious tournament not only receives a sizeable sum of money (2019 winner Danny Willett pocketed a cool €1,056,661 when he was victorious), they also get an exemption into the US Open and the next three Open Championships. This gives a particularly strong incentive to players who would otherwise struggle to meet the qualification criteria for those two major championships.
Faldo’s Four Victories
Many greats have won this prestigious tournament over the years, but no player has lifted this trophy more times than Sir Nick Faldo. The English ace has won the event on four occasions, and though his six major championship wins (three Masters victories and three triumphs in the Open Championship) are more significant, there is no doubt Faldo has a soft spot for this tournament too.
Faldo’s first win came in the 1978 Colgate Championship, as it was then known. He stormed away from the opposition with a seven-stroke success, with Scotsman Ken Brown finishing as runner-up. Two years later, the man from Hertfordshire edged the win by a single stroke, with Ken Brown once again finishing as the runner-up. Faldo was up to his old tricks again in 1981, again beating – you’ve guessed it! – Ken Brown (and Neil Coles), this time by four strokes. There is little doubt that poor Ken Brown must have been sick of the sight of Faldo at this tournament by that point!
His 1980 win was the joint second highest winning score of the event in the European Tour era (i.e. since 1972) when he ended the tournament three over par. The only year a higher score has allowed a player to win was 1975 when the great Arnold Palmer won by two strokes despite only managing a score of five over par!
Faldo’s fourth and final victory came in 1989, when he beat Welshman Ian Woosnam by two strokes at Wentworth Club. His final score of 16 under par that year was typical of the low scores achieved at Wentworth. The best score in this tournament at the time of writing was South Korea’s An Byeong-hun who mustered a fantastic 21 under par in his 2015 triumph.
Nick Faldo’s BMW PGA Championship Victories
|Year||Nick Faldo’s PGA Championship Wins||Score||Runner(s)-up|
|1978||Colgate PGA Championship (Royal Birkdale)||-10||Ken Brown|
|1980||Sun Alliance PGA Championship (Royal St George’s)||+3||Ken Brown|
|1981||Sun Alliance PGA Championship (Canton Golf Club)||-10||Ken Brown & Neil Coles|
|1989||Volvo PGA Championship (Wentworth Club)||-16||Ian Woosnam|
Monty’s Magical Three in a Row
Colin Montgomerie made history in 2000 when he won a third successive Volvo PGA Championship (as it was then known). The Scot dominated this competition for three years, winning in 1998, 1999 and 2000. To this day, Montgomerie is the only player to have won this competition three years running.
Monty’s first triumph was a close one, edging out Ernie Els, Gary Orr and Patrik Sjoland by a single stroke. The next two victories were more convincing, as Montgomerie won by five strokes from Mark James in 1999 and then by three in 2000 when he got the better of Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood and Andrew Coltart who tied for second place. The Scottish ace also finished runner-up in 1991, 1993 and 2002. Only nine players have won this tournament more than once.
Alas, Monty never enjoyed quite as much success in the majors… he finished second or tied for second on five occasions during his career! As you can see from the table below, some other winners of this one performed somewhat better in the biggest tournaments on the planet.
Multiple Winners of the BMW PGA Championship
|Years||Multiple Winners||Number of Major Wins/Best Major Finish|
|1978, 1980, 1981, 1989||Nick Faldo||Six wins (Masters three times, The Open three times)|
|1957, 1962, 1965||Peter Alliss||Eight/tied eight (The Open four times!)|
|1987, 1993, 1995||Bernhard Langer||Two wins (Masters twice)|
|1998, 1999, 2000||Colin Montgomerie||Second/tied second (PGA Championship, US Open, The Open)|
|1983, 1991||Seve Ballesteros||Five wins (Master twice, The Open three times)|
|1972, 1982||Tony Jacklin||Two wins (US Open, The Open)|
|1988, 1997||Ian Woosnam||One win (Masters)|
|2011, 2012||Luke Donald||Tied third (Masters, PGA Championship)|
|2002, 2007||Anders Hansen||Third (PGA Championship)|
In 2008, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and Englishman Oliver Wilson were involved in a thrilling battle for the BMW PGA Championship. Both players finished on 11 under par, with a playoff needed to decide the champion.
Jimenez held his nerve at the end to win his one and only BMW PGA Championship crown, sealing the win with a birdie. Jimenez also hit a hole-in-one on the West Course’s fifth hole. The Malaga-born man remains the last Spaniard to win this tournament.
The Beginning of Rory’s Dominance
Northern Ireland star Rory McIlroy has enjoyed plenty of success in golf in recent years. However, many believe that Rory’s BMW PGA Championship win in 2014 kick-started his relative dominance of the sport.
Rory started the week by announcing he had split with fiancée Caroline Wozniacki, but he let his golf do the talking at Wentworth Club, edging past Shane Lowry in a close battle. He was seven shots behind Dane Thomas Bjorn going into the last round, but McIlroy had a final round to remember, going on to win by a single stroke.
Shortly after his BMW PGA Championship success, Rory won the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship. In the years since, McIlroy has won various other major events and tournaments and cemented his place in the history books as one of the greatest players of his generation.
Donald versus Westwood
English heavyweights Luke Donald and Lee Westwood locked horns in a memorable battle in 2011. The pair traded blows, resulting in a playoff at the end of what was an excellent BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club. Donald eventually got the better of Westwood, seeing off his rival on the first extra hole.
After his win, Donald replaced his fellow countryman as world number one, where he stayed for 40 weeks. “To come through in these circumstances in one of the biggest tournaments in the world, going head-to-head with Lee is pretty special. It does not get much better,” said Donald. He retained the trophy a year later, this time by securing a four-stroke success over Paul Lawrie and Justin Rose.