5 Players to Watch at the BMW PGA Championship

Fresh off his comeback on Aug. 28 at the Tour Championship in Georgia, Rory McIlroy is a top contender at the BMW PGA Championship, which begins Thursday at the Wentworth Club in Surrey, England.

McIlroy captured his third FedEx Cup title by completing the largest final-round comeback in the history of the Tour Championship. He will be a compelling figure at Wentworth, but here are five other players to watch.

Shane Lowry plays a second shot on the tenth hole during the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship in August in Memphis.Credit…Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Shane Lowry

Ireland’s Lowry has proved that the course suits him well. In his last five appearances at Wentworth, he has finished no worse than a tie for 17th. His best showing was finishing second to McIlroy in 2014.

Lowry, 35, would have qualified for his first appearance at the Tour Championship if either Adam Scott or Aaron Wise had made a bogey on the 72nd hole at the BMW Championship on Aug. 21 in Delaware, but each made clutch pars to secure the final two spots.

Lowry shot a 68 on Sunday at the BMW to finish in a tie for 12th but three-putted from about 65 feet for a bogey at No. 17. Ranked No. 23, Lowry has not won an event since he captured the 2019 British Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland.

Justin Rose during a practice round at Southern Hills Country Club in May in Tulsa, Okla. He was once ranked at No. 1.Credit…Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Justin Rose

Rose, 42, also hasn’t won since 2019 at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego. Once as high as No. 1 in the rankings, Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, now stands at No. 58.

In 18 PGA Tour events this season, he has recorded only two top-10 finishes, and his best finish was a tie for fourth at the RBC Canadian Open in June when he flirted with becoming the first European to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour. He ended up with a 60.

His performance in the majors has been disappointing. He missed the cut in the Masters, tied for 13th in the P.G.A. Championship, tied for 37th in the U.S. Open and was unable to compete in the British Open with a bad back.

But Rose has experienced some success at Wentworth. He finished second in 2007 and 2012. Last year, he tied for sixth.

Francesco Molinari putts on the tenth green during the first round of the Memorial Tournament in June in Dublin, Ohio.Credit…Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Francesco Molinari

Similar to Lowry and Rose, Molinari, 39, has had his moments in this event. In 2018, shooting a final-round 68, he won the BMW PGA Championship by two shots over McIlroy. He has recorded six top-10 finishes at Wentworth since 2012.

In July 2018, Molinari captured the Quicken Loans National in Maryland by eight shots, closing with a 62, and three weeks later he won the British Open in Carnoustie, Scotland, by two shots, becoming the first Italian player to win a major.

He missed a chance to win another major in 2019, when up by two at the Masters he found the water with his tee shot at No. 12 in the final round, which led to a double bogey. He finished in a tie for fifth.

In this past season, he recorded only one top-10 finish in 17 appearances on the PGA Tour, missing the cut at the Masters and the U.S. Open. He tied for 15th in the British Open.

Billy Horschel plays a second shot on the tenth hole during the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship in August.Credit…Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Billy Horschel

Horschel, who won the BMW last year, picked up his seventh PGA Tour victory in early June at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio, beating Wise by four strokes. He shot a 65 in the third round that put him up by five, and he finished the final round with an even-par 72.

Horschel, 35, became only the second American to win the BMW. The first was Arnold Palmer in 1975, when the tournament was known as the Penfold PGA Championship. Horschel, now ranked No. 15, secured the win with an approach shot on No. 18 that came to a rest less than two feet from the cup. He converted the putt to finish with a 65 and a one-shot victory.

England’s Lee Westwood during the first round of the British Masters in May. He was one of the first players to join LIV Golf.Credit…Paul Childs/Action Images Via Reuters

Lee Westwood

Westwood, 49, is one of more than a dozen players in this week’s field from LIV Golf, the new series financed by Saudi Arabia.

Ranked No. 100, his best finish on the PGA Tour this season was a tie for 14th at the Masters. He missed the cut in the P.G.A. Championship and tied for 34th at the British Open.

Westwood, a former world No. 1, has never won the BMW, although he came close in 2011, losing in a playoff to Luke Donald. Last year, Westwood finished in a tie for 71st. He said he planned to play four DP World Tour events in 2023.

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