There’s simply no getting away from the Ryder Cup at this week’s BMW PGA Championship. The permutations and potential possibilities of a player doing this, another player doing that and some other player doing a bit of the other in this last act of the European qualifying race would make the unravelling of the Abel-Jacobi Theorem look about as complex as a game of noughts and crosses.

What those needing a big finish at Wentworth would’ve given for Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s opening round? With the kind of surge that would’ve had the BMW engineers asking the Thai for advice on improving the 0-to-60 acceleration rate of their motors, Aphibarnrat roared home in just 30 blows en route to a sparkling eight-under 64. “It was incredible,” he said of a back-nine blitz which featured a bag of seven birdies as he set a daunting early target.

That was matched at teatime by South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who made an eagle and three birdies in four holes from the fourth then sprinted home with a trio of birdies at 16, 17 and 18.

Aphibarnrat and Bezuidenhout, of course, don’t have any of the Ryder Cup kerfuffle to contend with. Justin Rose, meanwhile, is one of the many with Whistling Straits on their mind and the Englishman made a sturdy statement of intent in the last chance saloon as he opened with a 67.


Rose, a veteran of five European campaigns down the seasons, needs a win this week to qualify automatically for Padraig Harrington’s team, although a decent showing will probably be enough to earn a wild card pick on Sunday night. Rose doesn’t want to rely on that route into the side, though.

“All eyes are on me now, which is great,"  said Rose, who has been a runner-up twice in the BMW PGA. "That is a good start where I can focus on the positive scenario, which is me winning the tournament to get into the team by right.

"That [winning] is obviously Plan A, then Plan B is all of the other stuff. I didn't actually appreciate how many scenarios were still in play this week with so many players, so there's a lot to shake out over the next few days.”

Heading into the European Tour’s flagship event, there were some 15 players still in with a shout of earning an automatic Ryder Cup berth. According to the number-crunchers, statisticians and mathematicians, a second place finish would get the job done for Oban’s Robert MacIntyre but his ambitions suffered an early blow as he spilled a shot on the 16th and two on the 17th in a 74.

MacIntyre may not have got going but his mum, Carol, played a starring role near the first tee as she comforted a stricken spectator who had collapsed before medics arrived on the scene. It was an eventful day.

It was too for Bernd Wiesberger. A top-50 finish could dunt him up into the Ryder Cup qualifying spots but having leaked three shots in his first six holes he wasn’t doing his hopes any favours. 

The Austrian is made of stern stuff, though, and a grandstand finish, which included a birdie on the 17th and a rousing putt of 35-feet for an eagle on the last, gave him a spirited one-under 71.

Back at the head of affairs, and there was a happy return to this particular parish for Adam Scott. The former world No 1 hadn’t played in the Wentworth showpiece since 2006 but a sprightly 65 made for a jolly reaquaintance with the West Course. 

A good break on the 15th helped matters as he narrowly avoided going out of bounds before conjuring a sublime chip from 50 yards which bounced into the hole for an unlikely birdie. “I definitely thought the first ball was out of bounds but it must have bounced around in the trees and dropped down,” said the former Masters champion. “Sometimes, it’s just your day.”

It was a good day for the evergreen Miguel Angel Jimenez, who rolled back a few of his 57 years with a fine 68 to sit in the upper echelons. The cigars and red wine continue to serve the 2008 Wentworth winner well.

Of the other Scots, David Drysdale, Grant Forrest and Marc Warren all enjoyed decent openings with two-under 70s, the same mark as Irishman Shane Lowry, who is occupying the final Ryder Cup qualifying place.