Sky Sports presenter Nick Dougherty tells NCG why a seventh English winner in 12 years is on the cards at Wentworth
Nick Dougherty is really good at his job. That gets said a lot, I know, but rightly so. The former European Tour star turned Sky Sports presenter gets the deserved plaudits because he’s likeable, funny, and self-deprecating.
And it’s just as well, because he rang me for our chat four and a half hours before I was expecting him to. (If you’re a budding journalist and you’re reading this – prepare well in advance, otherwise sometimes you will have to wing it.)
Dougherty, calling from his car, was on his way to Wentworth to host the coverage of this week’s postponed BMW PGA Championship.
I have lots to get through – none of which is written down – but when he called I was placing a couple of bets on the European Tour’s flagship event so I had to ask who he’s backing this week.
Now Dougherty knows Wentworth better than most – he’s been a member of the Surrey club for many years – and says the West course demands all aspects of your game to be on song.
But there’s another little factor in play for Dougherty as he looks to pick a player to move ahead of the chasing pack come Sunday.
“I always like the guy who came 2nd the week before – it’s a bit of a thing of mine,” he tells me.
Well it worked last week with Aaron Rai going 2nd-1st, I think. “It worked last week with Aaron Rai going 2nd-1st,” he says, interrupting my thoughts, “but I’m certainly going to lean that way this week and go with Tommy Fleetwood.
“He has the form of a tied-3rd in Portugal and 2nd in Scotland – he’ll be disappointed he didn’t win that – and that’s before you add in that he’s one of the top players in the world.
“He’s a great ball striker, so tee-to-green he’s going to answer those questions that Wentworth asks.”
Dougherty asks me to hang fire for a few seconds because he’s going through the gates and into the grounds of the grand estate. It gives me a chance to glance down the tournament’s Wikipedia page.
Having gone from Nick Faldo in 1989 to David Howell in 2006 without an English winner of the BMW PGA Championship, we haven’t been able to get enough home champions in recent years, with Paul Casey, Simon Khan, Luke Donald, Chris Wood and this year’s defending champion Danny Willett all getting in on the act.
It’s clear that Dougherty is excited by the English players making moves at the top of the game.
“We were celebrating the number of Scottish players in the field last week, there’s some really good young golfers coming through, and we’ve got a wealth of talent in England as well who are already superstars to a degree.
“Look at the world rankings, there’s a lot of them in the top 20 – probably more than there’s ever been – and they’re all really strong performers. It’s a good time to celebrate.
“Tyrrell Hatton is in a rich vein of form. The only thing I’d say about Tyrrell is he’s coming back from spending a lot of time in America so does he hit the ground running? Probably. He’s a great player and he’s been consistently brilliant on the PGA Tour this year.
“And there’s Matt Fitzpatrick. And Matt Wallace. Good young players. And Justin Rose and Lee Westwood are back in the mix.
“But if I have to pick one I’m going with Fleetwood.”
Another thing Wentworth does is produce fan favourite champions. Fleetwood certainly fits that bill.
Are you backing Tommy to get over the line at the BMW PGA Championship? Let us know in the comments below.
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Nick is working with BMW on its Garden Golf Tour, which celebrates fans of the sport and the golf courses they have built in their gardens during lockdown.
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