European Tour

English quartet aiming for home glory at Wentworth

2018-04-23 13:44
Matthew Fitzpatrick (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Englishmen Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett and Chris Wood are targeting victory on home soil after confirming they will be part of the field for next month's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.

The quartet will join compatriots Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood, defending champion Alex Noren, of Sweden, and four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, in the line-up from May 24-27.

Hatton has already tasted victory in the Rolex Series after winning the Italian Open in October 2017 - a title he will defend the week after he tees it up at Wentworth.

That was his third European Tour title following his successful defence of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, and the world No 19 would love to add another victory on a course that is close to his heart, having grown up in High Wycombe, close to the Surrey venue.

"It's obviously a special week, even more so for me," said Hatton. "I've been going to the event since I was six years old, so it's always an event I look forward to playing. Certainly, when I got my European Tour card I couldn't wait for that week to have friends and family there, so it is always a special week."

Ryder Cup player Fitzpatrick has four European Tour titles to his name, including a breakthrough victory on home soil at Woburn in the 2015 British Masters.

The 23-year-old closed with a 66 at Wentworth Club last year to finish tied 12th, six shots behind winner Alex Noren of Sweden.

"We're always excited to go and play the BMW PGA Championship," said Fitzpatrick. "It is one of the highlights of the year for all of us, particularly the English guys. You really get a fantastic crowd and a lot support

"I think it is important for the game in England having us young guys - I'm 23 and Tyrrell is 24 - doing well and hopefully juniors come and watch at Wentworth and it inspires them to pick up a golf club themselves."

Wood won the European PGA Championship in 2016, finishing one shot clear of Sweden's Rikard Karlberg, and the three-time European Tour winner has another two top ten finishes to his name at Wentworth Club.

His victory two years ago was the first time the European PGA Championship had been won by an Englishman since Luke Donald successfully defended his title in 2012, and it helped earn Wood a Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine National.

"Coming to Wentworth as a past champion means an awful lot more than it did two or three years ago, so any time I get to go back, I love it," said Wood. "It was huge moment in my career - it catapulted me into The Ryder Cup team.

"The PGA Championship is a premier event for us on the European Tour, so it's a tick-in-the-box event to win really - it's a bucket list event. Outside of the Majors, for a European, it's right up there to win, so thankfully I've got my name on it and I want it on there again this year."

While Wood was the last Englishman to win the European PGA Championship, Willett is the most recent to join the exclusive group of Major Champions, following his memorable victory in the Masters Tournament in 2016.

He also boasts a good record at Wentworth Club, where he has recorded two top five finishes, including finishing third - two shots behind Wood - in 2016 - the same year he claimed the Green Jacket at Augusta National.

"Wentworth is a special place and the PGA Championship is always a great event," said Willett. "You always feel a lot of support from the home crowds and I've performed well there in the past, so hopefully I will be able to do so again this year.

"I've had some injury problems this year, but I’d love to play well at Wentworth and go on to have a strong second part of the season."

Aside from marking the return of the Rolex Series on the European Tour's Race to Dubai in 2018, this year's European PGA Championship holds added significance with Ryder Cup points earned at European Tour events from the European PGA Championship until Made in Denmark multiplied by 1.5 on both the World Points List and the European Points List.

Fitzpatrick, Willett and Wood also represented Europe at Hazeltine National two years ago, while Hatton currently leads the European Points List and is therefore on course to automatically qualify for Thomas Bjørn's 12-man team for Le Golf National, in France, this September.

"I'd love to play in the Ryder Cup," said Hatton. "I've given myself a good chance at the moment but there is a lot of golf to be played between now and the end of August when the team is finalised."

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