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The Rise and Fall of the Wentworth Club's PGA Events!

The Rise and Fall of the Wentworth Club’s PGA Events!

The Rise and Fall of the Wentworth Club’s PGA Events!

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WOW, talk about a comedown!  From those heady days back in the ’60s and 70’s when the Piccadilly Match Play at the Wentworth Club attracted the top 8 golfers of the day.  Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tony Lema were just a few.  World-class golfers who took time out of their busy schedules to compete on this impeccable golf course!  Later came the prestigious European Tour PGA Championship.  The tournament represented the very best of European Tour golf, with all the top 50 players entering.  

It was a “must play” event!  It was a course I dreamed of playing as a young lad starting to play this game called golf!  This year, Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters Champion, is the only world top 20 players on the field!  A sad state of affairs, to be sure, and I hope Keith Pelly can bring The Wentworth Club back to the Flagship Status it rightfully deserves!

Wentworth is no longer the “Flagship” event on the European Tour!

“I’m telling you our flagship event, right here, is the DP World Championship, which is $8m plus a bonus prize,” said European Tour CEO Keith Pelley in November ahead of the circuit’s lucrative finale in Dubai. “I’m not sure how you couldn’t say this wouldn’t be our flagship event.

“It [the BMW PGA Championship] has a fund of €5m. It’s a terrific event with wonderful fan engagement with 125,000 fans that experience the game of golf, and the way that we actually present it should be applauded. The tournament committee under Jamie Birkmyre has done just a fantastic job. But I don’t see it as our flagship event.”

For years that title was universally bestowed upon the PGA at Wentworth.  Where the championship has taken permanent residence since 1984. Such a statement would have been unthinkable during the previous leaderships of George O’Grady and his long-serving predecessor Ken Schofield.  But times have unfortunately changed for the historic event within the continually evolving dynamics of the modern professional game.

The Rise and Fall of the Wentworth Club's PGA Events!

Pelley, the bespectacled Canadian who took charge of the flat-lining tour last year.

He has made his ambition clear of increasing prize money significantly to attract the leading players from the PGA Tour at key points of the season. The winter and autumn sojourns to the Middle East have proven to be strongholds in the face of the overwhelming competition from Tim Finchem’s eye wateringly rich organisation in the United States, with many of the classic events beginning to slip away.

It has become incumbent on the likes of Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia to support the Irish and Spanish Opens respectively.  Two important tournaments that would otherwise face an uncertain and ominous future had it not been for that star power lending a rescuing hand. Coincidentally, both of those players are two of the most notable absentees from Wentworth.

That has become the most telling hallmark of the PGA’s quiet decline. For whatever reason, whether it be in the face of an increasingly busy schedule or personal preference, Wentworth is no longer a must-play for the game’s best. While the likes of Faldo, Seve, Langer and Woosie dominated in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Masters champion Danny Willett, sure to receive a rapturous reception from the English galleries, is the only player in this year’s field who is ranks inside the world’s top 20.

To read the rest of this compelling story, go here!

Source: Kieran Clark

Pictures: Alexander Baxevanis  Daily Mail

Thanks for reading – The Rise and Fall of the Wentworth Club’s PGA Events!

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