While the European Tour has increased it’s depth with every year this century, producing many more surprise winners as a consequence, this tournament has rather bucked the trend. Even the less obvious picks were big names, such as Nick Dougherty last year or John Daly in 2001. Every winner this century had previously won a high-class event, and that same principle applied to 19 of the 27 players to have made the places in the last five years.
One might have thought that the strength of the field would be affected, given that this tournament follows the US Open, but BMW have managed to attract plenty of stars. The leading dozen in the betting all played Pebble Beach, headed by final day contenders Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer. However after the performance of his life, Gregory Havret has opted out.
COURSE AND KEY STATS
Golfclub München Nord-Eichenried has always been one of the easier courses on the European Tour schedule. Seven of the last ten winning totals were 20-under-par or better, with 15-under-par the worst.
This flat course – a par-72 measuring under 7,000 yards – has always been vulnerable and used to be a big-hitters’ paradise, as illustrated by Daly’s win. Nowadays, with everyone hitting it further and the rough more penal, it seems more like a ‘second-shot’ course, that requires high-class approach play and a stack of birdies. For my money, the key stats are putting average, birdie average and par-5 performance.
5pts win MARTIN KAYMER @ 10/1 (GENERAL)
Normally, I’d be sceptical of backing a player to maintain their strong performance immediately after a major. However, Kaymer is talking a very good game as he attempts to regain a title he won in 2008. Clearly, the German has improved in the meantime, as illustrated by finishing eighth at Pebble Beach, hardly a course suited to relatively inexperienced players. A win here would also very much boost our position on him to win the Race to Dubai.
2.5pts ew CHARL SCHWARTZEL @ 20/1 (GENERAL)
Schwartzel may have a bit more experience than Kaymer, but is still only 25 and remains an outstanding prospect. Previously anonymous in the biggest events on the world stage, he’s improved markedly this season, finishing runner-up in the WGC event at Doral, third in the Houston Open and Sunday’s top 20 was also a personal best in the US Open. It is only six months since Schwartzel won the two opening Race to Dubai events, and more seem likely to follow. This birdie-fest, in which he was sixth in 2008, looks ideal.
1.5pts ew SOREN KJELDSEN @ 33/1 (GENERAL)
Kjeldsen must be considered as something of a course specialist, even if he has yet to win here. In twelve attempts, dating back to when he was virtually unknown outside Europe, he’s registered nine top 25 finishes. It must bode well that he was on the fringes of contention for a long way at Pebble Beach, and the Dane looks overdue a lucrative week at European Tour level.
1pt ew DANNY WILLETT @ 50/1 (GENERAL)
Were Willett to win this, it would break the trend concerning previous champions, as it would be his first professional title. Nevertheless, I remain firmly of the view that the highest of prizes await Willett, once his game matures. This is precisely the type of low-scoring course, with four par 5s, where I expect that overdue breakthrough win will occur. Danny certainly showed plenty of aptitude for it when finishing ninth on last year’s course debut.
0.5pt ew ALEXANDER NOREN @ 80/1 (GENERAL, 90/1 STAN JAMES)
So far, Noren has done little to vindicate the high hopes many of us held for this season, yet he remains capable of high-class golf on his day. I’m sure he’ll challenge again for an event sooner or later, and this type of layout tends to bring out his best. Noren’s blog entries tend to be self-critical, so this week’s confident comments might be a small clue of an imminent turnaround. If so, his odds are certainly attractive enough.
0.5pt ew FREDRIK ANDERSSON-HED @ 100/1 (GENERAL)
With low scoring the order of the day, it may be worth taking a chance on Andersson-Hed repeating the stellar form shown during May, when winning the Italian Open and finishing an even better second in the BMW Championship at Wentworth. Andersson-Hed ranks third in both the putting average, and birdie average categories over the past three months.