Padraig Harrington is hoping that new greens at Wentworth will boost his hopes of ending Ireland’s 52-year wait for a victory in the British PGA.
The triple major winner will get a sneak preview of Ernie Els’ radically revamped West Course when he tees it up there on Tuesday in a company day for club sponsors Wilson.
Harrington was due to play the course on Friday but he was unable to fly because of the dangers posed to aircraft by a volcanic ash cloud spreading from Iceland.
Bumpy greens have kept the Dubliner away from the European Tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship since 2007 because he felt he had no chance of winning. But that could change after all 18 greens were ripped up last year in a major €7.4m redesign that has transformed the old Harry Colt masterpiece for the May 20-23 flagship event.
Explaining his decision to skip Wentworth for the last two years, Harrington said: “I thought I’d done quite well to shoot four-over for two rounds in 2002, but Anders Hansen ended up winning with 19 under. But once I heard that they were going to re-model the greens, I said that when that happens I’ll be one of the first there.”
Harrington usually takes advantage of his Wilson day to grab a sneak preview of the Open Championship venue - turning that to his advantage by winning the Claret Jug in 2007 and 2008. Now he’s hoping his reconnaissance mission to Wentworth will help him become the first Irish winner of the BMW PGA title since Harry Bradshaw won at Llandudno in 1958.
Set to play 18 holes with the new Wilson Staff FG Tour irons, Harrington said: “The PGA is one the biggest titles we play for and I’d love to put it on my CV before I finish my career.”
Wilson’s European chief, Doug Wright, said: “In the past four years we’ve taken Padraig to Carnoustie, Royal Birkdale and Turnberry ahead of The Open Championship and he obviously benefitted from the experience of playing those courses some weeks earlier.
“Now we hope that being one of the first to play the renovated Wentworth course will also stand him in good stead, especially with his new FG Tour irons.”