The European Tour travels to Germany this week for the BMW International Open. Spain’s Pablo Larrazbal defends his title at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof in Cologne.

After the stresses and strains of last week’s U.S. Open at Oakmont, a number of the European Tour’s best players have made the journey to Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof in Pulheim, Germany for the BMW International Open. Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia are on the start sheet, so too are Masters champion Danny Willett and his fellow Englishmen Andrew Johnston and Andy Sullivan, all three of whom made the cut at Oakmont.

Danny Willett secured his maiden European Tour victory in this event, over this course, back in 2012. He is looking forward to making a return to Cologne.

“I will never forget my win in 2012,” said Willett. “That first title will always be very special. It is nice to return to a course where you have enjoyed success in the past. The BMW International Open is a tournament with a positive atmosphere, which is something you really enjoy as a player.”

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 Munchen Eichenried, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal fired a superb final round of 66 to win by one shot from Henrik Stenson.

Larrazabal carded six birdies and not a single bogey on the final day to pull clear of the pack and claim his fourth European Tour title.

Pablo Larrazabal defends the BMW International Open this week and Stenson is scheduled to start after withdrawing from the U.S. Open before completing his second round.

The course at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof was designed by Kurt Rossknecht and opened for play in 1989. It’s a low scoring venue and, last time this event was held here in 2014 the winning total was 19-under-par. In that event Fabrizio Zanotti won via a playoff with Henrik Stenson, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Gregory Havret.

The weather forecast for the week looks reasonable, warm and dry save for Friday when there could be rain.

Venue: Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, Cologne, Germany
Date: June 23-26
Course stats: par 72, 7,229 yards
Purse: €2,000,000 Winner: €333,330
Defending Champion: Pablo Larrazabal (-17)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 23 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am
Friday 24 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am
Saturday 25 – Sky Sports 4 from 12.30pm
Sunday 26 – Sky Sports 4 from 11.30am

Player watch:
Pablo Larrazabal – He’s defending champion and he was only two shots off making the playoff when this event last visited Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof in 2014. He may have missed the cut in the Nordea Masters, but before that he was showing good form with a tied 12th place finish at Wentworth.

Henrik Stenson – The big Swede will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing U.S. Open with a good performance in an event he won back in 2006. He lost in a playoff for this tournament in 2014, the last time it was contested at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof.

Andy Sullivan – The affable Englishman has re-found his form with good results in the BMW PGA Championship and the U.S. Open. He will look to continue his good run this week.

Andy Sullivan’s punch shot masterclass:

Key hole:
Key hole: 18th. A 456-yard par-4 with water all down the left hand side, it’s two solid shots to reach the putting surface. It’ll be 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.