ENGLAND cricket star Kevin Pietersen is hoping next month’s BMW PGA Championship at the newly re-designed Wentworth will prove a hit with the game’s top players, writes Richard Ashton.

The likes of Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose are all set to play in the European Tour’s flagship event, and Wentworth member Pietersen told the News he does not care who wins as long as the course – which has had 29 bunkers removed and the greens relaid in the past year – plays well.

He said: “I want the tournament to be the winner. I don’t care who wins. I just want the pros to leave with a feeling about the course which is super positive. That’s the biggest thing.

“I hope from a fan point of view and a member’s point of view, that it’s the best week ever. You want the players to come off and say the greens are perfect.”

Single-figure handicapper Pietersen is set to play in the popular Pro-Am the day before the competition begins, teeing up alongside Piers Morgan, Brian Lara and an ‘A Grade’ tour pro.

And he said golf needs to encourage fan engagement with such events.

He commented: “Franchise cricket is working and golf needs to do something like that, because it’s being lost. These four-day tournaments, when some of the best players in the world go home on a Friday night, if you’ve got tickets for Saturday or Sunday and you’ve been working Thursday and Friday, you want to go and watch Spieth or Woods.

“If they’re not there, for sponsors it’s no good, same for the paying public, it’s an absolute shambles. Different formats need to be looked at. Speaking to golfers, they do understand about the need for the entertainment factor of taking the game closer to the fans, because fan engagement is all people care about now.”

He continued: “The closer you can take the fans to the game, the more sponsors, the more broadcasting, the more money golfers will make.

“In cricket, I commentate while I bat in the Big Bash, and golfers have to get mic’d up. When I’m watching and I see a caddie talking to a player about what he’s going to do, I want to know. I’m mic’d up for the whole four hours in the Big Bash so I know I can’t swear.

“When I watched the Phoenix in Arizona, they’ve got that stadium hole, and I tweeted every single golf tournament needs a stadium hole. The second hole here, there should be a stadium hole here.”

Pietersen – who scored almost 14,000 runs for England during his career – also revealed playing golf, which he started only two years ago, has benefitted his batting.

He revealed: “If I’d played golf throughout my cricket career, I’d have played better cricket. My best cricket by a country mile has been since when I started playing golf.

“It’s having that still head, that small ball, the hips through the ball and the technique which you have to perfect to hit the ball straight. With the bigger ball in cricket it’s slightly different because there is that movement off the surface, but in Twenty20 cricket there is little movement and if it doesn’t swing, you literally just stand there and deliver. Anybody who says golf messes with you, they’re wrong.”

The BMW PGA Championship takes place from May 25 to 28. For tickets, visit www.europeantour.com.