Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stenson joins Cabrera at Wentworth

The ability of the BMW PGA Championship to attract the ‘men of the moment’ in the world of golf will be emphasised once again this year when Swede Henrik Stenson joins Angel Cabrera of Argentina to headline a truly world class field at Wentworth Club from May 21-24. Both men possess exciting and explosive talents as they have shown over the past four weeks; Cabrera leading the way last month with his thrilling victory in the Masters Tournament at Augusta National, while Stenson followed suit last weekend with an electrifying victory in The Players Championship in America. Now Cabrera, the man with the Green Jacket in his locker, and Stenson – whose stunning victory propelled him to World Number Five - will aim to add one of golf’s most prestigious titles to their already impressive respective CVs when they line up in The European Tour’s flagship event with an eye on the first prize of €750,000 from a total prize fund of €4,500,000. To do that, they will both have to be at their very best in view of the calibre of the field which includes ten of the top 25 players in the world today, including Paul Casey of England, currently ranked seventh, who attempts to become the first ‘home’ winner at Wentworth Club since David Howell in 2006. Cabrera returns to the scene of his success four years ago aiming to follow in the footsteps of Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and José Maria Olazábal, who all captured the Masters title and went on to further glory at Wentworth Club the following month. He said: “The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth is always one of the highlights of the year and I have enjoyed some good results there. The West Course is one of my favourites while the atmosphere surrounding the Championship gives it the feel of a Major event. I am looking forward enormously to trying to repeat my win of 2005.” Casey, who recently won the Shell Houston Open, also captured his ninth European Tour title in January by winning the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, and was runner up to Geoff Ogilvy in the World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play at the beginning of March. While the achievements of Cabrera and Stenson have caught the public imagination over the past few weeks, there is no shortage of players aiming to shoot them down; from defending champion Jiménez to the English contingent of Casey, Luke Donald, Justin Rose and last year’s runner-up, Oliver Wilson, who all have their eyes on the prize on home soil. Casey said: “BMW are one of our best sponsors and the Championship is at Wentworth, the home of The European Tour, so I am really looking forward to it,” said Casey. “I’ll be returning home and I’ll have family and friends around. “I have obviously had success on the golf course (winning the 2006 World Match Play) and we are playing for big prize money so it will be very important for The Race to Dubai.
“I am looking forward to coming back to Europe to support BMW and The European Tour. There are few finer places in the world than this part of Surrey on a nice Spring day. I will arrive early to get my practice done because I want to play well there. “The BMW PGA Championship is extremely important for me as my next appearance after that in Europe will be The Open Championship. They are two events I always look forward to. We play all over the world now but there is always a special feeling when we arrive at Wentworth as this particular week heralds the start of a big part of the golfing season. It is a very important event.” In-form Casey, who finished in a tie for tenth over Wentworth Club’s famous West Course in 2008, will be joined by compatriots Rose – who lost a play-off to Anders Hansen of Denmark in 2007 - and Wilson, who narrowly missed out on claiming his maiden European Tour title in the BMW PGA Championship in 2008. Wilson also came off second best in a play-off, losing to Jiménez on the second play-off hole last year having tied with the Spaniard on 11 under par 277 in regulation play. Wilson said: “I have fond memories of the BMW PGA Championship and what it did for my career. In one week I moved from 11th to second on the Order of Merit and into the top 50 in the world at Number 45. I achieved some big objectives there. “BMW know how to put on awesome tournaments and with the combination of the Tour’s Flagship event on their own doorstep, great TV coverage and big crowds, it generates an aura and excitement which isn’t replicated at many other events.” Having recovered from the hand injury he sustained at the US Open Championship which ended his 2008 season and ruled him out of a place in Nick Faldo’s Team in Valhalla, a revitalised Donald also returns to Wentworth Club hoping to improve on his tied third place at last year’s Championship. Donald fired a superb final round 65 to finish level with Robert Karlsson last May, two strokes behind Jiménez and Wilson, for his second consecutive top ten finish after his seventh place in 2007. Two-time Masters Champion José Maria Olazábal adds his considerable flair to the 2009 Championship while the field is enhanced considerably by the presence of others in the world’s top 25, namely Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, Lee Westwood of England, South African Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Retief Goosen of South Africa and Germany’s Martin Kaymer.

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