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BMW PGA Championship: Fran the man for Wentworth title tilt

The BMW PGA Championship takes place at Wentworth this week and although the sheen has been taken off what used to be the European Tour's flagship event by the introduction of the lucrative Rolex Series, it remains one of the highlights of the golfing calendar.

Last year Alex Noren came from seven shots back to win the event with a final-round 10-under-par 62 and he is a 14/1 shot in the BMW PGA Championship odds to retain the title he secured in such style.

However, the shining light is undoubtedly 2014 champion Rory McIlroy who is making his first appearance since this parkland course underwent a major revamp in 2016 during which around 30 bunkers were removed, a sub-air system was implemented on all 18 greens and pure bentgrass was introduced on the putting surfaces.

McIlroy is 8/1 favourite this week which is not a bad price for a player who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill a couple of months ago, his first title in two years.

Winners have come from both the top and the bottom of the market in recent years and for every McIlroy, Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Noren there are a few surprises thrown into the mix like Simon Khan, Ander Hansen, An Byeong-hun and Matteo Manassero.

Wentworth is traditionally a venue which tests a player's all-round game but being strong from tee to green is advantageous and, despite debutant winners like An, experience of the course certainly helps.

We had some success with full each-way pay-outs at 25/1 on both Branden Grace and Marc Leishman at the AT&T Byron Nelson last week and think Francesco Molinari can go well at a slightly lower price of 20/1 with seven places up for grabs this week.

The Italian has a spectacular record round this course and has only once finished outside the top 10 in his last six visits. The venue changes made no difference last year when he was runner-up and but for a spectacular closing round from Noren would have been standing in the winner's circle.

When it comes to hitting greens in regulation there are few better than Molinari and although he has not played in Europe since the Italian Open seven months ago, this is a course where he loves to get at the par-fives as he did so successfully last year - a key ingredient to performing well here.

Molinari's last victory actually came at the tree-lined Milan Golf Club two years ago and his form backs up his chances too, finishing 20th at the US Masters and 16th at Quail Hollow.

Next up in our BMW PGA Championship betting tips at 66/1 is in-form Spaniard Jorge Campillo, who ticks all the boxes to perform well on the West Course.

Campillo has finished in the top five in his last seven events and his strengths should suit a tilt at the title this week.

A quarter-finalist at last week's Belgian Knockout which took place at a similarly tree-lined course where he led by a shot at the end of the first two rounds of regular strokeplay, only losing to eventual champion Adrian Otaegui in a nine-hole knockout.

Not only are Campillo's stats on par-fives and par-threes encouraging, he looks even stronger on par-fours which are notoriously difficult at Wentworth.

Another player who has been scoring well on the long and short holes is Chris Paisley whose BMW PGA Championship odds of 100/1 can be explained by three MC in three appearances here.

However, the 32-year-old from Hexham broke his tour duck by winning the SA Open earlier this year and he continued that form with successive top-fives during the Desert Swing.

Paisley is possibly a risk considering his course form and a couple of missed cuts in the US are not ideal, but he was fourth with Tommy Fleetwood in the two-man event at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and can flourish now he's back on home soil.

Finally in our BMW PGA Championship betting preview, we like the look of Andrew Dodt for a top-20 finish at 7/1. The Australian is a streaky player but he led by one going into the final round last year only for a closing 73 to result in a sixth-placed finish.

This will be Dodt's eighth appearance in the PGA Championship and while sixth represents his best performance, those memories should hold him in good stead this week.

BMW PGA Championship betting tips

Click on the link for more golf previews

Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Golf