PGAs of Europe

Meet the PGA Pros Heading to Wentworth

There will be a total of 13 PGA Professionals in action at the eagerly anticipated BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this week.

The European Tour’s flagship event has attracted a stellar field which includes current Open Championship Henrik Stenson, Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose and defending champion Chris Wood.

Once again the coveted Silver Salver trophy will be awarded to the highest place pro.

Here is a brief factfile on each of the players who will be flying the flag for the PGA in Surrey this week…

Ian Poulter, 41

Ryder Cup legend Ian Poulter will be returning to the revamped Wentworth course for the first time in three years after accepting an invite to play at the Surrey venue.

The 41-year-old has slipped down the rankings dramatically in recent months after picking up a troublesome foot injury last year.

In April, Poulter was set to lose his PGA Tour card after failing to earn the required points or prize money, but he was able to retain his place on tour after a discrepancy in the points structure used for players with major medical exemptions.

Poulter has won 12 events on the European tour and heads into this year’s championship in good form having finished runner-up at the recent Players Championship at the popular TPC Sawgrass venue.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the changes that have been made at Wentworth,” said Poulter.

“It seems the changes they have made are what the West Course deserves and it is going back to its rightful self, so respect to the club, to the European Tour and to the guys involved for making those changes and I’m sure the players will enjoy playing it.”

Robert Rock, 40

Two-time European Tour winner Robert Rock has spoken of his determination to add the BMW PGA title to his golfing CV before he retires.

The 40-year-old was an affiliate member of the European Tour back in 2003 and finished the 2009 season ranked inside the top 30 in the race for Dubai.

Rock claimed his maiden tour title at the BMW Italian Open in June 2011 and has made appearances at three of the four major championships, which includes a tied seventh place finish at the 2010 Open Championship.

After failing to finish inside the top ten on either of his last 11 attempts in Surrey, Rock is hoping to challenge the likes of Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Danny Willett to the title this Sunday.

He said: “Wentworth is the one I want to win. I’d be disappointed if I made it through to the end of my career and hadn’t really given it a good shot.

“I still prepare because the BMW PGA Championship is the one I want to win and I’d be very happy with my career if I could win that one.”

Robert Coles, 44, (Maylands Golf & Country Club)

Experienced former European Tour player Robert Coles turned professional back in 1994 and the Hornchurch-born player has participated in over 300 events, winning three Challenge Tour titles.

The 44-year-old is one of three players to have already secured a spot in the Great Britain and Ireland team for the eagerly anticipated PGA Cup event at Foxhills Resort in September after finishing in the top three of a recent play-off competition at Staunton.

Coles is no stranger to the Wentworth course having finished tied 69th back in 2013 and in 12 years ago he produced his best ever performance at the event, finishing tied 39th.

Coles said: “I can’t wait to play at this year’s event. I’ve played there ten times before and I used to go and watch the tournament as a kid.

“There’s going to be some big players there and that’s what makes it such a massive event, that’s what makes it so good. There will be big crowds too.”

 

Paul Hendriksen, 37, (Ivybridge Golf Club)

Paul Hendriksen is gearing up for his first ever appearance at the BMW PGA Championship.

Back in February this year, the 38-year-old won the PGAs of Europe Fourball Championship alongside James Ruth and he has also won the 36-hole Total Triumph Classic twice in succession in 2015 and 2016.

In September year Hendriksen inspired Devon to the final of the PGA England & Wales Inter-County Championship for the very first time. He recorded no fewer than eight birdies in a five under par 66 score at a region qualifier held at Tiverton Golf Club.

And his biggest success so far was winning the PGA Club Pro Championship two years ago.

Hendrikesen said: “It’s the first time I’ve played at an event on the European Tour and it’s the biggest event I’ve played at so I’m looking forward to it.

“There are a lot of big names playing at Wentworth but I’m not worrying about that. It will be great to pit myself against them and see how I get on.

“My aim is just to play as best as I can, do what I normally do at events and see how I get on.”

Matthew Cort, 42, Beedles Lake Golf Club

It will be a fifth appearance for Matthew Cort when he takes to the fairways at Wentworth this week.

The 42-year-old only took up the sport at the age of 15 after previously coming close to becoming a professional footballer.

Cort heads to Surrey in good form after tasting victory at the PGA Play-offs back in October last year – an event he had finished twice runner-up at in previous years.

He was the first player to win three successive PGA Assistants’ Championship titles between 2011 and 2013 and he will be part of the 2017 Great Britain and Ireland team for the PGA Cup event in September.

“I’ve had some good rounds there – nothing spectacular,” said Cort.

“The course has changed a little bit – the greens have been redesigned. That’s the same for everyone – they will be encountering it for the first time so we’ve all got to try and get used to it.”

Graham Fox, 39, (Clydeway Golf Club)

Scottish golfer Graham Fox will be hoping to make it third time lucky as he looks to make the cut on his third appearance at the BMW Championships at Wentworth.

Last year Fox, who took up golf at the age of 12, shot a respectable 72 in his opening round but a 77 on the Friday saw him miss the cut after finishing the tournament on five over par.

Greig Hutcheon, 43, (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre/Inchmarlo Golf Resort)

Scottish teaching pro Greig Hutcheon enjoyed one of his best ever performances at the BMW Championship at Wentworth last year.

The 43-year-old, who has won the Scottish PGA Championship on two occasions, made the cut comfortably and was flirting with the leaders heading into the final two days of action.

A triple birdie finish on Saturday provided hope for a best ever finish heading into the final round, but the two-time PGA Play-off winner dropped six shots in his final six holes to end in disappointing fashion.

Hutcheon finished in the top three of a play-off at Staunton back in October which means he will represent Great Britain and Ireland at the PGA Cup at Foxhills Resort later this year.

“Wentworth is never easy but I’m expecting the scores to be a little better than perhaps in previous years. I’m looking forward to seeing the changes,” said Hutcheon.

“I’m 44 now so I’m no spring chicken but I come into the competition with a lot of experience and I’ve played at Wentworth many times before.”

Paul Streeter, 50 (Lincoln Golf Centre)

Paul Streeter turned professional late in life at the age of 31 back in 1997 and the 56-year-old has appeared at the BMW PGA Championship on three previous occasions, with his best finish coming five years ago at Wentworth where he finished tied 21st.

His other career highlights include qualifying for the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews where he failed to make the cut after finishing with a score of 152.

More recently he won the PGA Midland Professional Championship after finishing on the same score (131) as fellow winner Andrew Willey.

“If you chip and putt well you’re in with a chance at Wentworth,” said Streeter. “Lots of players can hit the ball well but you need to be able to chip and put to be in with a chance. It’s invaluable at Wentworth.”

Neil O’Briain, 30 (Old Conna Golf Club)

After enjoying a successful amateur career which saw him win the Kerry Boys Championship and the Connacht Youth Championship twice, Neil O’Brian made the decision to move to the US in 2005 after receiving a scholarship to Wofford College in South Carolina.

He won plenty of accolades as well as college titles in the states, including being named Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, before eventually turning professional.

O’Brian competed in a number of European, Challenge and EuroPro events before earning his PGA teaching qualification and he now has aspirations to earn a European Tour card over the coming seasons.

“The goal is to put four good rounds together and see how it all pans out,” said O’Briain. “Take it as it comes.

“If the putter gets hot it could be a very good week and that’s what it really comes down to.”

Phillip Archer, 45 (Birchwood Golf Club)

Sportsmad Phillip Archer took up golf at the tender age of nine through the influence of his father and turned professional back in 1991.

The 45-year-old earned his place on the European Tour in 2004 and finished a career high of 29th in the 2007 Order of Merit during a season where he came close to winning his maiden title after finishing as runner-up three times.

Archer made a habit of successfully qualifying for major championships after making it through to the US Open in both 2006, where he finished T48, and he qualified again in 2008.

He has also played in two Open Championships, the most recent coming in 2010 at St Andrews.

Past experience of playing at the BMW Championship will stand Archer in good stead, having finished T64th in 2009 and T58th two years earlier.

“I’m looking forward to playing the flagship event again and seeing where my game is against the best around again,” said Archer.

“I will go into the event with hopefully a different feeling as it not being the be all and end all.”

Damien McGrane, 46

Irishman Damien McGrane has an impressive record at Wentworth in recent years having made the cut five times over the past seven years and he finished tied for 17th back in 2010.

The 46-year-old, who turned professional in 1992, enjoyed his best spell as a player towards the back end of the 2000s when he won his maiden tour title in 2008 by lifting the Volvo China Open and one year later he collect £700,000 after finishing 41st in the Race to Dubai.

Since retiring from the tour in 2015, the County Meath player has gone on to enjoy plenty of success on the Irish PGA Regional tour and last year he was victorious at the Irish PGA Championship at Moyvalley.

“It’s a huge competition and it always attracts the top players,” said McGrane. “They always try to turn up to the flagship events so it will be nice to see what us pros can do on the big stage.

“The course has changed this year so it will be a challenge, but it’s going to be a challenge for all of us out there.”

Chris Gane, 43, Left-handed Golf

It will be a third appearance at the BMW PGA Championship for Chris Gane as he looks to make the cut at the UK’s second biggest tournament of the year.

Gane has mainly competed on the second tier of the Challenge Tour where he picked up two wins at the Terme Euganee International Open Padova and the Austrian Open in 2001.

Back in 2009 he finished 13th in the Challenge Tour rankings which earned him full European Tour status in 2010 and he is now a PGA Professional at Silvermere Golf Club in Surrey.

“I want to make the cut because you’ve got to set your sights as high as possible and give a good account of yourself,” said Gane.

“When I played two years ago I was a bit nervous about playing. I hadn’t been involved in a tournament that big and I was a bit worried about what might happen.”

Paul Lawrie

Open Championship winner, Paul Lawrie, received the 2015 5 Star Professional Award from the PGAs of Europe in recognition of his contribution to the profession over a wide range of areas of expertise and activity.

Lawrie was nominated by the PGA in Scotland and selected by the PGAs of Europe’s award selection committee based on his work and representation as a PGA Professional, his work in developing the Paul Lawrie Foundation, along with his playing successes across the years, and was acknowledged for his award at the Association’s Gala Awards Dinner at Gloria Hotels & Resorts in Turkey.

Born in Aberdeen, he turned pro in 1986 and played his first season on the European Tour in 1992. Has since won eight European Tour titles, most famously the 1999 Open Championship, where he came from ten shots behind to win the Claret Jug at Carnoustie.

Played in the 1999 and 2012 editions of The Ryder Cup, the latter following a renaissance that saw him win three times in two years. Awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2013. Actively involved in promoting the game at grass roots through the Paul Lawrie Foundation. Has hosted his own European Tour event each year since 2015, the Paul Lawrie Match Play.

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