The European Tour kicks back into gear following some time off for the U.S. Open. Up this week is the BMW International Open in Germany.
The Jack Nicklaus-designed Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof will play host for the fourth time in tournament history. It was previously the venue for the German Masters for 11 consecutive years from 1998-2009. The championship track stretches to 7,229 yards and plays to a par 72.
Headlined by top-20 ranked stars Tommy Fleetwood (No. 10) and Sergio Garcia (No. 18), the BWM will also include Germany’s own Martin Kaymer as well as Belgian long-bomber Thomas Pieters.
Here are more details about this week’s 30th BMW International Open.
Tournament: BMW International Open
Dates: June 21-24, 2018
Where: Pulheim, Germany
Title Sponsor: BMW
Course: Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof
Distance: Par 72, 7,229 yards
Architect: Jack Nicklaus
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $333,330
Defending Champion: Andres Romero
Marquee Players: Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garica, Thomas Pieters, Adrian Otaegui, Thorbjorn Olesen, Ernie Els, Jose Maria Olazabal, Chase Koepka, Thongchai Jaidee, Edoardo Molinari, Thomas Bjorn, Chris Wood, Matteo Manassero, Alexander Bjork, S.S.P. Chawrasia, Matt Wallace, Eddie Pepperell, Wade Ormsby, Chris Paisley, Martin Kaymer
TV AND ONLINE
Round 1: Thu 5:30 am -7:30 am (GOLF)
Round 2: Fri 5:30 am -7:30 am (GOLF)
Round 3: Sat 8:00 am – 12:30 pm (GOLF)
Round 4: Sun 6:30 am – 11:30 am (GOLF)
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The BMW International Open is Germany’s longest running professional golf tour event. First contested in 1989, Northern Ireland’s David Feherty edged American Fred Couples by five strokes to capture the inaugural trophy.
The tournament was annually held in Greater Munich, the home base of BMW, until 2012. Since then, though, the event has rotated each year between Munich (Golfclub München Eichenried – 2013, 2015, 2017) and Cologne (Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof – 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018).
Until the Porsche European Open arrived in 2016, the BMW International was the Tour’s lone event contested in Germany. The total prize money is now up to $2.24 million, which is about a mid-tier purse on the European Tour.
Martin Kaymer is the only native son to have won the title in the 29 previous editions. German legend Bernhard Langer is a five-time runner up.
Two-time winners Paul Azinger, Pablo Larrazábal, Henrik Stenson, and Thomas Bjørn are tied for the most victories. Other big names engraved on the trophy include Sandy Lyle, Frank Nobilo, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Danny Willett, Ernie Els, and John Daly.
1989-18: BMW International Open
2017: Andrés Romero (-17)
2016: Henrik Stenson (-17)
2015: Pablo Larrazábal (-17)
2014: Fabrizio Zanotti (-19)
2013: Ernie Els (-18)
2012: Danny Willett (-11)
2011: Pablo Larrazábal (-16)
TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS
261 (-27) – John Daly (2001)
2 – Henrik Stenson (2006, 2016)
2 – Pablo Larrazábal (2011, 2015)
2 – Thomas Bjørn (2000, 2002)
2 – Paul Azinger (1990, 1992)
Andres Romero carded five back-nine birdies to sign for a closing 65 and a 17-under par 271 total, one clear of Masters winner Sergio Garcia, Richard Bland and Thomas Detry, who were a shot back at 272.
Romero, 36, arrived in Germany on the back of a missed cut at the US Open, and entered the week ranked No. 837 in the world. After his second Tour title – and first since 2007, the Argentinian moved to No. 182.
“I am really happy to win on the European Tour again after ten years,” Romero said. “I always felt I had a good chance today once I birdied the 8th and the 9th. I can now join the European Tour again and would like to thank BMW for inviting me to play in this fantastic event. This is a life-changing moment.”
Romero’s final day was highlighted by seven gains on his final 11 holes.
FINAL TOP 10
1 Andres Romero -17
2 Sergio Garcia -16
2 Richard Bland -16
2 Thomas Detry -16
5 Rikard Karlberg -15
6 Renato Paratore -14
6 Tommy Fleetwood -14
8 Nacho Elvira -13
8 Hennie Otto -13
10 Henrik Stenson -12
10 David Lipsky -12
THE FIELD: ANALYSIS
There’s no doubt the spotlight will be on Tommy Fleetwood, whose record-tying 63 at the U.S. Open vaulted the Englishman into the world top 10 rankings and on the doorstep of superstardom.
After his second-straight top 5 at the U.S. Open, Fleetwood is clearly the European Tour’s top regular player. And along with Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, and Henrik Stenson – who all primarily play on the PGA Tour, he’s also one of Europe’s top-5 players in terms of the Ryder Cup horse race.
On the season, he’s missed just one cut (Wells Fargo, PGA Tour) in 15 worldwide start. In the two majors thus far, Fleetwood owns a top 20 (T17, Masters) and runner up (2nd, US Open).
Overall, on the season, Fleetwood has recorded a win (Abu Dhabi) and nine additional top 20s, including six top 10s.
Fleetwood will lead a solid English contingent which includes three 2018 winners in Matt Wallace (Hero Indian Open), Chris Paisley (BWM South Africa), and Eddie Pepperell (Qatar Masters).
Former Ryder Cup stars Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood are another pair of top Englishmen in the field.
Sullivan, in particular, has been playing some of his best golf in recent memory, and could pose a threat to the tournament-favorite Fleetwood. In his last four starts, the former top-30 ranked player has recorded three top 10s, including a T5 at the recent Italian Open.
On the season, the 31-year old from Nuneaton, England has not missed a cut in 15 starts, and owns seven top 25s. Sullivan is still in search of his first win since his breakthrough 2015 season when he secured three titles – his only career victories.
The other top-ranked headliner, No. 18 Sergio Garcia, has fallen on hard times since the infamous debacle at Augusta National.
Beginning with the Masters, Garcia has missed four cuts in five starts, with his only money finish being a T70 at the PLAYERS (MC, MC, T70, MC, MC). In those 12 rounds, Garica has broken 70 just three times (81-78-74-72-68–69-75-76-72-69-75-79)
If he’s going to get back on track, the BMW International would be a likely spot, as the 38-year old Spaniard has not posted a finish worse than T12 in his last four attempts here (T2 (2017), T5 (2016), T12 (2014), and T7 (2013)).
Recent Belgian Knockout winner Adrian Otaegui and Jorge Campillo join Garcia to create a talented trio of Spaniards.
Another player to watch is Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, who is seeking his first win since 2016. The 27-year old long bomber kicked off the season with a T5 against a stacked Abu Dhabi field, but since then he’s been shutout of the top 10, with a T13 (Honda Classic) and T14 (Italian Open) his only two top 25s.
Prior to his recent T14 in Italy, Pieters had gone T37, T52, T52, MC, T66, T39, and MC. A strong performance in Germany will go a long way in judging if the streaky player has busted his slump. In his only two starts at the BMW International, Pieters has missed the cut twice (2014, 2015).
Defending champ Andres Romero has not played well since his breakthrough win last year. The 37-year old Argentinian owns just one top 10 since (T9, Omega European Masters).
Veteran stars Ernie Els, Jose Maria Olazabal, and Thomas Bjorn add some star power to the field, but are not expected to be in the hunt come the weekend.
FIELD: ODDS & RANKINGS
The European Tour really heats up with three-straight Rolex Series events leading in to the season’s third major: the 147th Open at Carnoustie. First on the docket is the HNA Open De France.
Credits: European Tour Media, Getty Images