The European Tour is in Germany this week for the Mecedes-Benz Championship at Gut Lärchenhof. Defending champion Robert Karlsson is not in the field as he’s recovering from an eye problem and home hopes will focus on veteran Bernhard Langer in the absence of an injured Martin Kaymer.
A strong field will assemble at Gut Lärchenhof as the inaugural “Race to Dubai” gathers pace and European players continue their quest to amass points towards qualification for the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Lee Wetwood will be looking to take advantage of the fact the three men ahead of him in the Race to Dubai standings – Martin Kaymer, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy – will not tee it up in the competition. The Englishman is excited at the prospect of returning to a venue that holds good memories. “Last time I was here I shot 61 in the first round so it is a golf course I like,” he said. “The greens are very true.”
The Mercedes-Benz Championships is only open to a select field and features no cut. “It’s a reward for those players who have done well in the year and are up on The Race to Dubai and it gives the event more of an elite feel.” Said Westwood.
The 36-year-old will, however, face stiff competition at Gut Lärchenhof from, amongst others, 2007 champion Søren Hansen, Miguel Angel Jiménez, Ross Fisher, Alvaro Quiros and last week’s winner Alex Noren.
Langer is aiming to become the first man over the age of 50 to win a European Tour event. The German has enjoyed another excellent year on the senior circuits and is confident he can carry that form into this tournament, (it’s an event he’s won four times in the past.) “If I play extremely well, I can shoot under par, and we’ll see what that leads to,” he said. “But it’s definitely a golf course that favours long hitters.”
This will be the 10th time the tournament has been contested at Gut Lärchenhof. Colin Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia and KJ Choi have all tasted victory here. Opened in 1996, it’s a Jack Nicklaus design featuring water hazards on 50% of the holes.

Venue: Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof
Date: September 10-13
Course stats: par 72, 7,289 yards
Purse: €2,000,000 Winner: €320,000
Defending Champion: Robert Karlsson (-13)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 10 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 1pm
Friday 11 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 1pm
Saturday 12 – Live on Sky Sports Xtra from 12.30pm
Sunday 13 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12.30pm

Player Watch:
Lee Westwood – The 36-year-old will be looking for a good result here to bolster his chances of ending the season as the European Tour’s number 1 player.
Henrik Stenson – The course should suit the big-hitting Swede. He’ll be hoping to record his first European Tour victory since early in 2007.
Bernhard Langer – He’s won the tournament four times and has been on excellent form on both the European Seniors and Champions Tours this season. He’s proved he’s capable of holding his own against the younger players with two top-10 finishes on the European Tour in 2009.

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.

Where next?

PGA Tour: BMW Championship preview