The European Tour has finally reached home soil and it's destination Wentworth for the flagship event on this side of the pond. This is one of many a European Touring pro's favourite stops of the year while others are not such big fans of the Harry Colt designed - and Ernie Els (who's at 101.0) altered layout - at the European Tour's HQ. There's a common theme when you look through previous leaderboards here and it's one of tee to green performance, especially from the tips, with those who excel in the driving department generally dominating on the West course.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy - 3.50 - wasn't a huge fan of the required shot shaping both ways from the tees around Wentworth but he didn't let that stop him en route to victory in 2014. Prior to that he had two missed cuts here. His performance on the par fives was key to his success. Consensus is that the course plays a lot better now after continuous tweaks and renovations since 2010 and Els - the affiliated touring pro who used to live on the property - was a proud man in his interviews after the 2014 renewal.
The course - Wentworth Club (West Course)
A 7,300 yard par 72 twisting through tree-laden forest terrain, Wentworth will test all aspects of a player's game. Play well from tee to green and good scores are available but if you're even slightly off, it will find you out. Shot shaping both ways is required around the dog legs from the tee and strategically placed fairway bunkers are lying in wait. Large undulating greens equipped with run offs are the dominant feature of the course so premium will be on approach shot accuracy, especially on the long par 4s. There are difficult pin placements optional to the hierarchy on the west course and flag sticks will be hard to get close to on certain days.
A top short game will come in handy for the long iron inaccuracies. Previous winners and scrambling sensations such as Luke Donald - 26.00 - and Matteo Manassero - 101.0 - would back up that statement. Swirling winds can get up at Wentworth and depending on how firm it's playing, greens can sometimes be hard to hold. The par fives could prove vital: Rory McIlroy was -15 for the tournament on the par fives in 2014, circling 12 birdies and 2 eagles.
Three from the pack
Jamie Donaldson - 34.00 or 7.50 - is just about to hit first gear going by his upward form curve over on the PGA Tour. It's perfect timing for the Welshman who excels in the driving department. Jamie was 40th in total driving and 2nd in the ball striking department en route to an 8th place at the Players Championship. He wrapped up with a final round 67. Jamie is trying to break America this year and his previous best finish was 6th at PGA National - another ball strikers' course. The European Ryder Cup hero has teed it up at, and made each of his last 7 cuts at Wentworth with an average finish of circa 30th in that period. He was 7th in 2011.
Marc Warren - 51.00 or 10.00 - took to Twitter on Sunday saying "Games good, one of my favourite weeks of the year", in relation to Wentworth and the Scot has been a regular fixture here down the years. It's no coincidence given he's one of the best on tour with the big stick. Marc has been putting excellently in Europe this season with a 27.18 average. He ventured over to the US looking for Masters' qualification but is now back in familiar territory: Warren has 6 top 30 finishes from eight at Wentworth. He lost out in a three-way playoff here in 2013 when Manassero emerged victorious and he'll be looking to go one better.
Ross Fisher - 81.00 or 16.00 - knows the west course at Wentworth more than most having spent most of his junior years playing there. In 2009 Fisher narrowly lost out by just a shot to Paul Casey. He followed that with a top 10 in '10 and has been a bit hit or miss ever since. Fisher however went through a bit of a spell in the golfing doldrums but since he picked up a win at the Tshwane Open this time last year, he's been showing signs of his old form. Ross has been simmering this season: He missed the cut in Morocco but other than that he's finished in the top 35 of every event he's teed it up in.
Thomas Bjorn - 101.0 or 18.00 - owns a recent form line of 43-40-3 and has another bunch of top 25s to his name at the BMW PGA Championship. Bjorn has a property at the Wentworth Club and he shares the course record 62 here having opened with -10 in 2014. The Dane isn't in top form this season but he did card a top 25 in Thailand and posted a 4th place in Indonesia in between a bunch of missed cuts. He holds this event in high esteem and is the type of player that can turn it on at any time. At a triple figure quote, he looks worth taking a bit of a chance on.