The European Tour heads for Germany this week and the prestigious BMW International Open at Golfclub München Eichenried in Munich. Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay is the defending champion while Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson are the star names in the event.
With a first prize of €333,330, this tournament has attracted a strong field as players jockey for position in the Race to Dubai. Those further down the list will be starting to think about what they need to do to secure their place in that all-important top-60 to qualify for the season finale at the DP World Tour Championship.
Aside from Kaymer and Stenson, a number of top players will tee it up in this week’s event. 2011 Open champion and 2016 European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke will play, so too will 2009 USPGA Champion Y.E. Yang, Matteo Manassero of Italy and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn.
Four things to watch for at the BMW International Open:
1. Martin Kaymer will be a strong home favourite this week. He’ll be looking to come back after missing the cut in defence of his U.S. Open title at Chambers Bay. He’s a former winner of this tournament; he took the title in 2008, and will be aiming to feed off the German support.
“The week after a major championship can sometimes be a quite difficult, especially with a nine-hour time difference, so I’m sure I’ll feel a little tired but I won’t need any extra motivation to get into the right mindset this week,” he said. “There’s always more pressure playing in front of a home crowd, but I like that pressure because it makes you want to please them and make them happy. That’s not always possible of course, but it won’t stop me trying,”
2. Henrik Stenson is another former winner of this tournament; he triumphed at this venue back in 2006. The Swede started well at Chambers Bay with an opening 65, but he faded over the following three rounds and eventually ended the week in a tie for 27th place. He began 2014 at second place on the Official World Golf Ranking but has now slipped to 7th. He’ll be looking to arrest that slide with a victory this week. If he gets the bit between his teeth, he could be tough to beat.
3. The course. A week on from Chambers Bay, the test waiting the European Tour’s best this week will be a little different to the one posed by the brutishly difficult U.S. Open venue. The layout at Golfclub München Eichenried is forgiving and is renowned for producing low scoring. Last time the tournament was contested here in 2013, Ernie Els won with a four-round total of 18-under par. With the weather set fair for the week, there could be some low numbers posted.
4. Defending champion Fabrizio Zanotti became the first Paraguayan to win on the European Tour when he took this title last year. He came through a four-man playoff against Henrik Stenson, Gregory Havret of France and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello. Zanotti eventually triumphed at the fifth extra hole.
He’d been struggling horribly on the 2015 European Tour until the Irish Open. He missed seven straight cuts before finishing in a tie for 40th at Royal County Down. He followed that up with a far more promising tie for 7th in the Nordea Masters. Perhaps a return to the scene of his victory might assist Zanotti to continue his comeback?