Rory McIlroy's tremendous victory at the BMW PGA Championship a year ago started in heartbreak but ended in jubilation and he defends his title looking to cap a memorable 12 months.

World number one McIlroy dominated the headlines in the build-up to the European Tour's flagship event in 2014 following the announcement of his well-publicised split from tennis superstar Caroline Wozniacki.

The Northern Irishman was all smiles come Sunday's play, though, as he produced a blistering final-round 66 to overturn a seven-shot deficit and win the title for the first time in his career.

That set in motion a superb ending to 2014 that included two major victories in The Open Championship and the US PGA Championship.

McIlroy returns to Wentworth as the overwhelming favourite and is a man in form, having blown away the field to win the Wells Fargo Championship by seven strokes on Sunday, with a record score of 21 under par.

It is no guarantee that McIlroy will walk away victorious, though, with no fewer than nine former champions among a star-studded field all hoping to build momentum with the US Open only a month away.

Englishman Luke Donald is among those to have his name etched on the honours board, winning twice in 2011 and 2012.

The former world number one has struggled recently and slipped to 60th in the world rankings, but he is hoping that this weekend can start a revival in his fortunes.

"You always enjoy coming back to a place where you've had a lot of successes and obviously some of my best successes on the golf course have been here," Donald said.

"2011 obviously was a play-off against Lee [Westwood] and then winning again in 2012, and having a pretty good chance to win last year, as well.

"So hopefully it's a place that will spark me to get this season started a little bit. Obviously coming back to a place where you play well always helps."

Donald's compatriots Lee Westwood and Justin Rose are among the field, the latter having fallen short with runners-up finishes in 2007 and 2012.

The likes of Martin Kaymer, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell also add quality to a 150-strong field.