Shane Lowry set to excel again at his beloved Wentworth
Ryder Cup staff struggling for birdies
Sky Sports Golf, 10am Thursday
Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy, defending champion Alex Noren, and former world number one Lee Westwood comprise the marquee threeball on the first afternoon of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Drizzle and light breezes are forecast for the opening day, with McIlroy, Noren and Westwood getting their PGA campaign underway at 12.30pm. The best-value threeball bet, though, is arguably in the match teeing off half an hour later when Shane Lowry can boss the 1pm contest.
Lowry has been competing exclusively on the US Tour this season, having relocated his family to Florida in January, grinding solid but unspectacular results on the toughest circuit of them all as he settles Stateside. A share of 14th place in the Houston Open last month was encouraging for the months ahead.
The downgrade to the European Tour this week could galvanise Lowry, who finished second in the DP World Tour Championship in November the last time he played a European event. The Irishman adores Wentworth, where he has finished in the top six four times in the PGA.
Lowry is up against European Ryder Cup skipper Thomas Bjorn and Graeme McDowell, one of the vice-captains appointed by Bjorn this week.
Bjorn has obviously put his playing career on the backburner as the Cup dominates his thinking – and the 47-year-old Dane had been in decline anyway – while the fact that McDowell has already been given a place on the backroom staff speaks volumes about his fall from grace.
McDowell has dropped to 239th in the world rankings and clearly has no hope of making the European team as a player in the eyes of Bjorn, which is a fair assessment given that the Northern Irishman has missed six cuts this year and hasn't had a top-20 finish in 12 starts. Lowry looks a bargain at 11-10 to outscore his veteran opponents.
The other threeball wager that appeals is Alexander Bjork to defeat Joakim Lagergren and Lucas Bjerregaard (1.35pm). Bjork followed third place in the Hassan Trophy a month ago with a maiden European Tour victory in the China Open. The accurate Swede finished 14th on his PGA debut last year and returns with confidence levels through the roof.
Bjork finds fairways for fun and makes hardly any mistakes, so can plot a safe passage through the tall trees of Wentworth. Lagergren and Bjerregaard are more aggressive and impatient players who are far less suited to this assignment, a fact reflected by miserable scores in their previous visits to the famous Surrey layout.
S Lowry to win threeball
3pts 11-10 BetBright
A Bjork to win threeball
2pts 6-4 BoyleSports, Coral, Ladbrokes
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