The European Tour travels to Germany this week for the BMW International Open. Pablo Larrazabal of Spain defends the title at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof in Cologne.
This will be the 24th running of the BMW International Open. It was first contested in 1989, an event won by David Feherty. Since then, the list of champions is impressive. Paul Azinger was twice a winner and Sandy Lyle, Robert Karlsson, Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer have all taken the title.
There’s a new venue for this year’s event and a new city too. In the past the tournament has always been contested at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried. For this year the competition has travelled north and west to Cologne and the Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof. It’s a Jack Nicklaus design with water a feature on 50% of the holes. The club is no stranger to hosting significant events sponsored by big car manufacturers. It was the venue for the Mercedes-Benz Championship 10 times between 1999 and 2009.
Martin Kaymer will inevitably be the fans’ favourite this week. He is a past winner of this event and the Gut Lärchenhof course is just 20 minutes drive from his home town of Dusseldorf.
“Obviously I have very happy memories of my win in 2008,” he said. “A lot has happened since then but I’ll never forget that week for as long as I live, because it was a very special moment for me – and also for the fans. The tournament is obviously at a different venue this week, but I know the course very well and it’s great that BMW takes the tournament to different parts of the country – especially as there are lots of golf fans in west Germany. It’ll be great for my friends and family to come along, because I only live 20 minutes away from the course, and it’ll also be great for me to sleep in my own bed – which is very rare at a tournament”.
In last year’s event Pablo Larrazabal came through an epic, all-Spanish, playoff against Sergio Garcia. The 28-year-old prevailed at the fifth extra hole.
Venue: Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, Cologne, Germany
Date: Jun 21-24
Course stats: par 72, 7,289 yards
Defending Champion: Pablo Larrazabal (-16)
Thursday 21 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 3.30pm
Friday 22 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 10.30am
Saturday 23 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 1.30pm
Sunday 24 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 12pm
Martin Kaymer – The home favourite and a past winner of this event, he is fresh off the back of a solid performance in the US Open. The former World Number 1 has slipped to 13th in the ranking and he’ll be looking to reverse that trend with a victory on home soil.
Retief Goosen – Another man who played well at Olympic Club last week, Goosen will look to build on that performance here. He’s one of the best on Tour when it comes to finding greens in regulation and, with water hazards guarding many of the putting surfaces here, that will be important this week.
Paul Lawrie – The Scot is enjoying an incredible renaissance in his career. He’s currently sixth in the Race To Dubai and 29th on the Official World Golf Ranking. He chose to skip the US Open last week so should enter this event fully refreshed and free from any mental scarring delivered by the brutal test at Olympic Club.
Key hole: 18th. A 456 yard par four with water all down the left hand side, it’s two solid shots to reach the putting surface. It’s no mean feat to make par here if it’s required to win the title.
Skills required: Approach play. Many of the greens are well guarded by water hazards and bunkering. Get the ball on the dance floor and there are good chances for birdies, miss the putting surfaces and a big score could be racked up.
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