MUNICH, Germany – Anticipate low scoring this week at the BMW International Open at Golfclub München Nord-Eichenried. At just 7,026 yards in length and a par 72, few courses on the European Tour yield to birdies and eagles so readily.
Martin Kaymer – The omens are good. So is the form. The young German looked good at Pebble last week.
Ernie Els – If he’s in the mood and not too tired after contending in the U.S. Open, then Els should be in the mix.
Danny Willett – The young Englishman finished 9th last year and has the confidence to win.
Robert Karlsson – The tall Swede won this tournament in 1997. Plus, two weeks ago he lost in a playoff to Lee Westwood in the St. Jude Classic. So he is in form.
Bernhard Langer – Normally, it would seem daft to pick a 52-year-old to win a European Tour event, but then Langer is no ordinary 52-year-old.
The Munich layout has hosted European Tour events going back to 1989, the year the course opened to a design by Kurt Rossknecht. No lead is safe on this course. That much was obvious last year when England’s Nick Dougherty came from three shots behind Retief Goosen heading into the final round to win with a closing 64.
Dougherty’s third tour win was emotional, coming just a year after the sad loss of his mother Ennis. However, he needed every one of those final 64 strokes. Argentina’s Rafa Echenique chased the Englishman every step of the way. He went two strokes better than Dougherty with a closing 62.
Want another sign that this is one of the easier courses on the European Tour? No player in the top 15 scored over par for all four rounds.
Normally tournaments following a major struggle to get respectable fields. Players usually need some down time following the stress of playing in a major. However, the deep pockets of sponsor BMW have ensured a decent field despite a prize fund of just €2 million.
Ernie Els, Robert Karlsson, Paul Casey, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Ross Fisher, Soren Kjeldsen, Sergio Garcia and home favorites Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer are the headline acts in the only European Tour event to be staged in Germany this year.
All eyes will be on Kaymer, the 2008 champion. The 25-year-old got into contention in the U.S. Open early in the final round before eventually finishing joint 8th. In fact, Kaymer is one of three top-10 U.S. Open finishers in action in Munich. Els placed third at Pebble Beach last week, while Kaymer’s compatriot Alex Cejka was also 8th. It would have been four of the top 10, but France’s Gregory Havret pulled out of the tournament following his second place finish at Pebble Beach.
Kaymer is due another win this season following victory in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Kaymer has made it a habit of winning twice in the same year. Last year, he won the French and Scottish Opens in consecutive weeks. And anyone looking for omens this year should note that Kaymer won the 2008 BMW after winning in Abu Dhabi.
Don’t discount the chances of Langer winning, even if he is old enough to be father to most of the field. The 52-year-old finished 9th here last year.