PGA Championship: 'Wentworth like its old self as European Tour set for huge week'

PGA Championship: 'Wentworth like its old self as European Tour set for huge week'

Defending champion Chris Wood predicts lower scoring at this week's PGA Championship at Wentworth.

But success will not only be measured on scorecards at Britain's biggest golf gathering outside the Open Championship.

This is a huge week for the European Tour as they use the Wentworth tournament to launch an elevated strata of events designed to compete with the might of the PGA Tour.

And be in no doubt, the American circuit's influence continues to grow. It is relentlessly dominant and ready to make its already wealthy players even richer.

So, on this side of the pond, the £5.4m Wentworth extravaganza needs to succeed as it tees up the newly branded Rolex Series of elite events on the European Tour.

This week should prove a turning point after recent PGAs left disgruntled players muttering about the West Course's suitability to hold such tournaments.

"There were murmurs a couple of years ago if we didn't do something drastic that the Tour could look elsewhere," Stephen Gibson, Wentworth's CEO, told BBC Sport.

"I don't think they have reason to now."

Gibson has overseen more than £5m worth of investment, which has been poured into renovating the West Course over the past year.

All 18 greens have been relaid with 007 creeping bentgrass, while sub-air technology, as used at Augusta, has been installed under every putting surface to control moisture.

Defending champion Wood agrees. The Bristolian shot nine under par to claim the biggest title of his career, and is convinced a lower score will be required for a successful title defence.

"I hope the changes don't affect my results too much," said a smiling Wood, who has been a consistent Wentworth performer in recent years.

"But they are really good changes and the big thing is the condition of the greens. They really needed looking at and you can't fault them.

"The greens are a shot easier purely because of the surfaces and I think the bunkers are not so severe."

There are 25% fewer bunkers, and those that remain are shallower and easier to get out of. 

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