It’s the flagship event on the DP World Tour at Wentworth as the world’s best European players flock to the BMW Championship while the LIV players bloat the field and take much needed spots from players at the bottom end of the Race to Dubai Standings, but here we are.
A week that could be remembered for anything but the golf, or just the golf. There are so many subplots, who will win? What happens if a LIV player wins? Will there be any on course tensions? Will there be any off course tensions caught on camera? What will the atmosphere be like?
All will be revealed over the next four days – someone better tell the LIV lads to bring a fourth pair of trousers this week!
Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Jonathan Caldwell are the Irish acts in Surrey and they will be hoping to be in the headlines for the right reasons this week.
McIlroy can become the first player since Henrik Stenson in 2013 to hold both the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai titles as he bids for a fourth Race to Dubai crown this autumn.
The Holywood native hasn’t lifted the Harry Vardon Trophy in seven years and he would love to continue his excellent season.
That’s a big thing for me.
“I’ve won (the Harry Vardon Trophy) before; I’ve won the FedEx before but not in the same year.
“I think all of my energy from now to the end of the season is to try to get that (Harry Vardon Trophy).
“I haven’t won it in seven years, so I’d love to get my hands on it again.”
The DP World Tour has been starved of sizeable prize funds and quality fields but five of the top-15 in the world are in town and after downing Scottie Schefler in East Lake, the 33-year-old is chomping at the bit to get going again.
“We’ve got a great field this week,” said McIlroy. “Wentworth is looking as good as it usually does, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a really good week.
“I think the history speaks for itself. For me personally, I came here as a kid to watch The World Match Play at Wentworth when I was like 10, 11 years old.
“It holds a lot of great memories for me and the fact that we get to come back here and play, and I think about Ernie Els and the Match Play and I think about the fact that I’m standing on those tees and those greens trying to emulate those heroes that I watched around here 20 years ago, it’s pretty cool.”
Shane Lowry has the best cumulative score to par in Wentworth – without winning. The Clara native is making his first appearance since missing out on the Tour Championship by one place three weeks ago.
This week marks the beginning of Luke Donald’s reign as Ryder Cup captain as the European qualification race starts with Lowry expected to be part of the travelling party to Rome in 2023.
Lowry hasn’t finished outside the top-17 in this event since 2017 and he would be a welcome winner should he break his three-year duck at what he described as one of his favourite events.
There are some hot discussion topics at Wentworth too with McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Billy Horschel all venting their frustrations at the presence of 17 LIV players this week and Lowry joined the chorus line.
“This is a big talking point in the world of golf and here this week,” Lowry told Sky Sports News. “I personally can’t say I am 100 percent okay with everyone being here, but some of the guys I kind of don’t mind being here, given what they have done for the tour over the years.
“But there are certain guys I can’t stand being here to be honest, and I don’t like it that they are here. To be honest, the one thing that has annoyed me over the last few months is how disruptive they are all trying to be.
“I get they are here to get world ranking points, but in a way, I think they are here for that and to be disruptive. I don’t think they are here for anything else.
“Obviously, they are here for world ranking points somewhat, but a little bit is to be disruptive as well, and I just don’t like it. It’s the BMW Championship and BMW have been so good to us in golf over the years.
“It’s all we are talking about and I think we should be standing here talking about how great Wentworth is and how big the tournament is and not talking about these guys that shouldn’t be here and don’t deserve to be here.”
“But I haven’t seen them in a long time and don’t hang out with them anymore and won’t be going to dinner,” added Lowry who had struck up a close friendship with LIV defector Harold Varner III.
Jonathan Caldwell is looking to back up a positive performance at the Made in HimmerLand last week where he made his first cut in seven events.
At 212th in the Race to Dubai the Clandeboye native can pick up some much needed points with a good performance.