Wentworth is the first sign we are heading towards a bumper Summer of sport and what an event this is to whet the appetite for the months ahead. The US Open, British Open, Wimbledon and the World Cup are only around the corner and there's no doubt we will be spoiled for action in the coming months. This week Surrey is centre stage and Wentworth looks in great nick. Many have commented that having gone under the knife in the past ten years Wentworth has now been restored to its former glory.
The field is always a talking point here with who makes the trip and who doesn't but we always have a super cast. As ever, long game is ultra important here. With fine weather in the UK recently I believe the rough will be tougher to play out of than usual so accuracy off the tee will be a premium.
Greens and Regulation and Scrambling always come into the equation of those at the top of the leaderboard so all aspects of your game must be in working order here.
McIlroy heads the market around a slightly uneasy 8/1. He is still finding it awfully difficult to win events this weather and despite some very solid performances for most of the season there have been blips. Missed Cuts were posted at Pebble Beach and the Valspar before most recently at Sawgrass so his trips to the States (Arnold Palmer excluded) haven't yielded an awful lot of good golf.
At the back end of last year he narrowly missed out on the British Masters and having won here at Wentworth before certainly can play well in these parts. European golf is in fine shape though and if he plays the best of his ability I still think he will see competition simply due to the high standard of the tour right now.
Andrew Johnston has re-focused his game after a whirlwind year or so riding the wave of the commercial side of the game. His feet are now back firmly on the ground and none more so was this evident when we backed him in India when he was beaten in a playoff by a gallant Matt Wallace. Johnston loves these tracks where accuracy and strategy are needed. The Player course in India is one of those, as of course was Valderramma where he played well a few years ago.
Tracks like this are always on Beef's radar and given his last three events form figures read 12-2-12 he arrives in solid nick. Having missed the cut on debut here in 2015 he has posted 7th and 21st which show his fondness for the place. There are plenty of obvious runners this week in the shape of Grace, Molinari, Fitzpatrick and Byeong Hun An but I think all have been underpriced a shade by the layers and I'd be more inclined to go with AJ at bigger odds than these.
Andy Sullivan has got his game together these past few weeks and looks to be one to be on the right side of this week. Having missed the cut on debut in 2014 he is 4 from 4 and never outside the top 30. Sullivan can rack up super finishes all in a bunch and he is the throws of some of his best golf for over 18 months.
His last six events read 17-16-34-21-7-3. He is certainly trending in the right direction and likes Wentworth so everything looks to be in place for a big effort this week. Noren and Casey both have negatives with Noren not putting his best foot forward lately and Casey very sketchy Wentworth form bar his victory.
Fleetwood is maybe the most interesting of the favourites given his performance at the Masters. However the top of the market looks vulnerable to me and I'm happy to have another recent and course form dog on my staking plan.
Joost Luiten hits many of the stats we are looking for this week and given he is a powerhouse european tour golfer can be considered one of the better bets of the week at a top price of 55/1. The Dutchman is having a solid year finishing 11th in the Maybank and two top tens in India and Morocco.
Sandwiched in between was an impressive victory at the Oman Open which demanded a solid long game. Wentworth demands the same and although he has yet to break the top ten here his last four finishes in Surrey read 24-27-11-12. He knows how to compile a score around here and this year he may go a few spots better given how he is playing.
Inside the top 35 on tour in Driving accuracy and Scrambling with a 13th spot in GIR spells that Luiten holds plenty of keys to unlocks the Wentworth doors. Hopefully he can walk through one of them.
Alexander Bjork arrives here off the back of his maiden victory on tour and although he doesn't rank the best off the tee he makes up for it in other departments. Bjork won impressively in China a few weeks back whilst finishing 15th in Driving accuracy.
That is a marked improvement although it is worth noting there is a lot more room off the tee at Topwin than there is here. The key remains his short game and scrambling skills. 17th in scarmbling and 14th in strokes gained around the green, Bjork has what it takes to contend here.
With recent winners at Wentworth coming in with solid form before winning, Bjork ticks that box. He finished 14th on debut and of the lesser names in this field looks one of the more interesting ones.
A recent win for Lagergren also shows this new wave of Swedish golfers may be on the verge of forging a solid partnership in winning events on the tour and it will be interesting to see if they can make it to the next level and win one of these events. Bjork is a menace with the flat stick so can certainly get in the mix here.
Jorge Campillo can't be too far away from his first victory on tour and he may feel slightly aggrieved he didn't get the chance to play out last weekend in strokeplay. He lead the field after 36 holes last week in Belgium and finally succumbed in the quarter finals.
Nevertheless that was a tied 5th to add to his 3rd place in China, 5th in Spain, 4th in Oman and 2nd in Malaysia. Two top 15s in South Africa and Abu Dhabi is enough evidence to suggest that 2018 will be his breakthrough year.
He ranks 16th in GIR this season and despite not ranking as high in some other stats he surely is a lively runner this week. 66/1 is tasty enough given how he has played recently as maybe too much respect is paid to the top of the market.