The European Tour travels to Germany this week for the BMW International Open. Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson will be the headline acts at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof in Cologne.

Lowdown:
The European Tour travels to Germany this week for the BMW International Open. Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson will be the headline acts at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof in Cologne.

Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, is 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. The club also welcomed this event in 2012 when Danny Willett of England came out on top.

“I’ve obviously got very fond memories of my win in Cologne two years ago. I played really well all week, especially in difficult conditions on the last day,” said Willett.

“I’m excited about going back there, because the course would suit me much better than the one in Munich does. The scoring’s not usually as low so you need to really work hard for your birdies, and I enjoy that challenge.”

Martin Kaymer will inevitably be the fans’ favourite this week. The newly crowned U.S. Open champion is a past winner of this event and the Gut Lärchenhof course is just 20 minutes drive from his home town of Dusseldorf.

David Feherty won the first instalment of the BMW International Open back in 1989, beating Fred Couples into second place. Since then, there have been some notable champions. Paul Azinger was twice a winner and Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer have all taken the title.

Last year, at Golfclub München Eichenried, Ernie Els came out on top. The South African beat Thomas Bjorn by a single stroke. Els isn’t back to defend his title this year, although a strong field has assembled. Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson will start the week as favourites, but they’ll receive stern opposition from the likes of Sergio Garcia, Victor Dubuisson, Thomas Bjorn, Miguel Angel Jimenez and last week’s Irish Open winner Mikko Ilonen.

The weather forecast for the week looks mixed. There’s currently a risk of some thundery showers over the weekend.

Venue: Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, Cologne, Germany
Date: Jun 26-29
Course stats: par 72, 7,228 yards
Purse: €2,000,000 Winner: €333,330
Defending Champion: Ernie Els (-18)

TV Coverage:

Thursday 26 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am
Friday 27 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am
Saturday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm
Sunday 29 – Sky Sports 4 from 11.30am

Player Watch:
Danny Willett – He was the winner of this event last time it was contested on this course back in 2012. He was tied third in last week’s Irish Open and had a chance of victory so is clearly on good form.

Chris Wood – He was tied third in this event in 2012 so the course obviously suits his game. He has had four top-25 finishes in his last five starts.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello – One of the European Tour’s most consistent performers in 2014, he’s missed only one cut and has five top-10 finishes to his name. He’s an extremely talented player and should surely have secured more than the two victories he has managed on the circuit. Perhaps this week he’ll add to his tally.

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.