BMW PGA Championship: Ernie Els defends Wentworth changes

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Luke Donald wins dramatic PGA Championship play-off

BMW PGA Championship

Venue:
Wentworth Club
Date:
Thursday, 24 - Sunday, 27 May
Coverage:
Highlights of Round One and Two on BBC Two, Live coverage of Round Three and Four on BBC One and Two, Live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Ernie Els has defended his changes to the West Course at Wentworth and says the majority of players enjoy the more challenging design.

Paul Casey and Lee Westwood have previously criticised the course, which hosts this week's BMW PGA Championship, since it was made harder two years ago.

But Westwood now says: "Ernie's done a good job on toughening it up."

And Els said: "Criticism is always tough to take, but if it's granted in the right way I'm fine with it."

Last year Casey called it "a grind", while after shooting a second-round 74 finished with a double-bogey seven, Poulter asked: "You're watching, you tell me, is it fun?"

Further changes have been made since 2011, among them the 12th hole reverting to a par five.

There is also added fringe rough around the final green, making it less likely that balls will spin into the water - as happened to Westwood as he lost a play-off and the world number one spot to Luke Donald in 2011.

"That wasn't the plan," admitted Els. "He didn't hit that bad a shot. The penalty was quite severe."

Els added that the previous criticism was now "history".

"We've patched things up with all the players. You're not going to please everybody, but I don't believe everybody should criticise just because there's changes," he said.

Donald will return to the top of the world rankings if he successfully defends his title.

He became world number one for the first time when he beat Westwood last year - replacing Westwood at the top in the process - and has since

McIlroy, 23, and Westwood are also both in the field.

Although it was bathed in sunshine this week, the condition of the course has been causing concern following weeks of cold and wet weather.

Head greenkeeper Chris Kennedy described it as "the most difficult build-up I have ever known".

He added: "March was the warmest and driest in 120 years and April was the wettest on record.

"Now May is shaping up to be the coldest in decades. We've had hail, white frosts and driving rain. It's been so hard getting quality grass to grow."

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