Cape Town - Francesco Molinari is hoping to feed off the energy of the
crowds this week as the Italian returns to defend his BMW PGA Championship
title in the fourth Rolex Series event of the 2019 Race to Dubai at Wentworth
"This week has always been special to me, even before last
year, but obviously last year made it extra, extra special," said Molinari.
The 36-year-old overcame Rory McIlroy down the stretch in
nerveless fashion last year, kicking off a career-defining run of form which
included his Open Championship triumph at Carnoustie, a record-breaking Ryder
Cup performance and the title of European Tour No 1.
"Obviously I've got beautiful memories from last year. The
duel with Rory on Sunday, and finally getting my hands on the trophy, it
obviously gave me a lot of confidence for the coming months after that," said Molinari.
"I was watching a video yesterday of the last few holes on
Sunday, and you could see I was uncomfortable in that position. I think that
was the first step forward to getting more comfortable in leading a tournament
and closing it out."
Molinari leads one of the strongest fields in the
tournament's long history, joined among others by the man who succeeded him as
Open Champion in July, Shane Lowry.
The Irishman was honoured by the European
Tour for his achievement at Royal Portrush two months ago, following Molinari
onto the esteemed list of life honorary members.
Billy Horschel and Patrick Reed, meanwhile, are
among the American stars playing the BMW PGA Championship for the first time
this week after the date change from May to September allowed them to fit the
prestigious tournament into their schedules.
Both European Tour Members, they
are relishing the opportunity to play the famous West Course for the first
"I'm excited. I've been trying to get over to Europe to play a few European Tour events over the last few years, and unfortunately hasn't worked in the schedule. This being one of the key ones, I grew up watching this event on TV," said Horschel.
Compiled by Lynn Butler