• Betting Bunker

McIlroy to master Wentworth

Josh Williams May 23, 2012
Aggressive players like Rory McIlroy are more likely to be rewarded at Wentworth this year © Getty Images

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The chess game between Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy for the world No. 1 spot resumes this week at the European Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

If Donald, currently ranked second, wins then he will once more climb above McIlroy - and even a top-eight finish might be enough for the Englishman depending on how his Northern Irish rival performs.

It was Donald who triumphed at the event last year, and it's easy to see why: this tree-lined track with a plethora of bunkers has a tendency to reward patient, accurate players.

That said, the course has been overhauled since last year's tournament, with the rough shortened and the 12th turned back into a par five.

Williams' wager

  • Rory McIlroy E/W - 11/1 at bet365
    Matteo Manassero E/W - 30/1 at bet365

Ernie Els, who modernised the course ahead of the 2007 iteration, expects to see lower scoring than has been the norm in recent years. "The scoring is going to be better," he said. "I think 14, 16 under is going to be the winning score again. Hopefully we will have more smiling faces from the players this year."

So this is a ball-striker's course that, this year more than ever before, will reward players for aggression from the tee. And to me those sound like the right circumstances for a McIlroy triumph.

Frankly, I can't see why he's been priced as generously as 11/1; okay, he's moaned in the past about the conditions in Britain, but the weather forecast is good for the next few days: calm winds are expected, which will help him.

Iron play is going to make the difference here and, with the possible exception of Lee Westwood, there's no-one I'd expect to deliver more often on that front than Rory. McIlroy, top of the Race to Dubai standings, has enjoyed himself at Wentworth down the years, and his fifth place in 2009 featured a third-round 65.

Four of his last five starts on events sanctioned by the European Tour have yielded top-five finishes, he's nicely rested, will want to impress ahead of both the Ryder Cup and the US Open… get on him before those odds shrink.

If we cover ourselves by going down the fairways-and-greens route that has been rewarded in past years, then precocious Italian Matteo Manassero leaps off the page. He's in the midst of a purple patch, with four top sevens in his last five European Tour starts, and was seventh at the BMW PGA last year, opening with a terrific 66.

Please note that odds are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.

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Josh Williams is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk