Danny Willett claimed his second Rolex Series title in successive seasons as the Englishman overcame Jon Rahm in stunning fashion to win the BMW PGA Championship title, his first victory on home soil.
The former Masters Tournament champion was locked in a tense battle with the determined Spaniard all weekend at Wentworth Club and there were turning points aplenty for the 21,962 fans in attendance – but none more so than at the 11th.
Having entered the final round tied for the lead, Willett had pulled two clear through ten holes courtesy of four birdies – to Rahm’s two – but found himself in some trouble with his second and third shots at the par four 11th, leaving himself with a monster putt for bogey.
He duly drained it for a five, though, with one of his many masterful escapes this week at the Surrey venue, and thereafter the wind was taken from Rahm’s sails – the 24-year-old bogeyed two of the following three holes with a birdie in between.
“I’ve watched this tournament for a lot of years. You know, through the Match Play and then obviously the BMW PGA Championship.
“It’s always nice to be able to compete on home soil. I’ve had a couple looks at The Open a couple of times but to be able to win finally on such an iconic golf course, with I think one of the best fields they have had.
“Any tournament win is amazing. That’s now my seventh win on Tour, and every single time I’ve won, they have been pretty stellar events against pretty stellar fields and The Ryder Cup stuff – it’s the first event of what, 40-odd (qualification events), whatever it’s going to be, for a year’s time when it’s back in America, Whistling Straits. It’s always nice.”
Willett, who won the final Rolex Series event of the 2018 season – the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai – closed out a deserved three-stroke victory with birdies at the two closing par fives for a five under 67 and a 20 under total. The Englishman moved to ninth in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
Rahm had gone for broke on the final hole by going for the green with a second shot which ended up in the water, but he bravely got up and down and signed for a final round 70 and a 17 under total.
The Spaniard was clearly disappointed not to have won and was frustrated by the manner in which he played the closing few holes.
“I’m not going to lie. It hurts. It stings. I played good all week, and up until the 13th hole, I was incapable of hitting an iron close to the pin and made a couple stupid mistakes. I should have come closer than two shots on the last two holes. I had my chances.
“At the same time, Danny played amazing golf. He played really, really good. I believe that 11th hole was the key moment of the match. He had a long, long putt for bogey and I had a decent look for a birdie, and he makes a bomb for a bogey and I missed my putt right. That was at least a one-shot swing right there and if he doesn’t make it, I’m putting more relaxed without the whole crowd going crazy. That was a key moment of the match.”
Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa earned his best result in a Rolex Series event as he took outright third spot with a 16 under total, after closing out the week with a four under 68. American debutants at Wentworth, Billy Horschel and Patrick Reed, shared fourth spot while home hero Justin Rose took outright eighth spot and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy shared ninth spot with Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston.
No Australian was able to make it to the weekend in the high profile event, Lucas Herbert and Wade Ormsby doing best when they finished one shot from making it to the final 36 holes.
Congratulations @Danny_Willett 🏆
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 22, 2019