A decent quality field headed by local favourite Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson, has arrived in Germany this week for the BMW International Open, which returns to the Golf Club Munchen Eichenried, near Munich. The 7,181yd Par 72 track has been a regular stop on the European Tour for a number of years, other than last year and 2012, when the event was played at a different venue in Cologne.
This is a flat track with generous fairways and numerous water hazards, and despite being toughened up in recent years, still offers plenty of scoring opportunities, as all four Par 5s are reachable for the majority of the field. Wind can be a factor around here, but with warm calm conditions forecast for the duration of the tournament, expect another low scoring renewal.
For punting purposes, post Chambers Bay fatigue has to be a consideration for many of the players at the top end of the market, as that brutal test must have left physical and mental scarring on even the hardiest of souls! Henrik Stenson heads the market at around the 8-1 mark, but makes little appeal after looking decidedly frazzled after a week trying to figure out the horrific Chambers Bay putting surfaces (good luck with that one Henrik). The home fans will also be out in force to cheer on Martin Kaymer, who arrives here off the back of a missed cut last week, but for me the German does not seem the same player since his meltdown in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. With doubts about the front two in the betting, I am happy to look elsewhere for a fresher potential winner in this tricky betting heat.
The sporting nap this week goes to the Great Dane, Thomas Bjorn, who after a slow start to the year has shown definite signs of a return to form in his last two starts, with a Tied 11th place finish at Wentworth and a Tied 21st in the Nordea Masters. The former two time winner of this event also had a great chance to make it a hat trick of wins at this venue in the 2013 renewal, but narrowly lost out to Ernie Els by a single shot in a thrilling finish. The surly Dane can sometimes give the distinct impression he would rather be anywhere than on a golf course, but hopefully the good karma from his previous exploits here will bode well this week.
Another Dane I fancy to go well this week, is the very much in form Soren Kjeldsen, who arrives here after a recent thrilling play-off win in the Irish Open. The diminutive Tour veteran showed this win was no fluke by backing it up with a 2nd place finish in the Nordea Masters, but the signs of a return of form had been evident before Ireland, with a Tied 9th place finish in the Open De Espana, and a Tied 18th at Wentworth. This new found belief has coincided with the appointment of a new bagman, the vastly experienced Alistair ‘Squirrel’ Matheson, who has had many good bags in the past, with the highlight being his successful 13 year stint with Geoff Ogilvy, which included a win in the 2006 US Open.
I would not be unduly concerned by the fact that the likeable Dane has played moderately in his last couple starts here, as the last few years have been a bit of a struggle for the ex Ascot resident. He does have plenty of earlier course form, including a Tied 4th in 2005, and a Tied 9th in 2009, so there is no doubting that when he is on song (which he definitely is); this is a track where he can be expected to continue his rich vein of form.
Despite his lack of recent form, I am going to include Ross Fisher in my staking plan this week. His lofty position in the current Race to Dubai is largely due to his runner up spot in the Nedbank Challenge last December, but at least he boasts a really solid course record at this venue. His last three form stats around here read 2-T9-T18, so this classy ball striker, who should be freshened up nicely after a three week break, can be fancied to return to form on a course that obviously suits his eye.