Paul Williams

Paul Williams' BMW International Open Tips 2019

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After the trials and tribulations of Pebble Beach where Gary Woodland deservedly won his first Major, we move to another familiar challenge this week as the BMW International Open returns to the Golfclub München Eichenried once again having been held in Cologne 12 months ago as well as in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

As always, we have the post-Major dilemma to consider – will those players who endured 4 long days on the California coastline be able to raise their game to compete here so soon afterwards? 17 players have made the journey straight to Munich to compete here, most notably (in terms of their result at Pebble Beach) Matt Wallace (12th), Matthew Fitzpatrick (12th), Martin Kaymer (35th), Eric Van Rooyen (43rd), Sergio Garcia (52nd), Adri Arnaus (58th), Justin Walters (65th), Clement Sordet (72nd) and Bernd Wiesberger (76th). Missed cuts from Thorbjorn Olesen, Thomas Pieters, Jhonattan Vegas, Matthieu Pavon, Sam Horsfield, Renato Paratore, Lee Slattery, and Luis Gagne complete the picture.

Adapting to the course here in Munich with its freshly laid Bentgrass greens will be the challenge – we shall see of course, however Ernie Els proved that the jet lag and fatigue can indeed be overcome as he won the 2013 renewal here in Munich after finishing 4th at Merion, plus Henrik Stenson finished runner-up in 2015 after returning from a top-30 finish at Chambers Bay before winning in Cologne in 2016 after withdrawing on the Friday at Oakmont when staring a missed cut in the face.

Golfclub München Eichenried, Munich, Germany. Designer: Kurt Rossknecht, 1989; Par: 72; Length: 7,235 yards; Water Hazards: 10; Fairways: Poa/Rye; Rough: Poa/Rye; Greens: Bentgrass.

Course Overview. A slightly lengthened track at 7,235 yards for its par of 72 is still no problem for the modern professional and with 4 mid-range par 5s and couple of potentially driveable par 4s, plus generous fairways, the course is set up for attacking golf.

Historically the greens here have been tired, slow Bentgrass mixed with Poa Annua, however the putting surfaces have been overhauled since we last visited this part of Germany and new, faster pure Bentgrass greens will greet the players. New greens tend to be firmer than normal until they properly bed in and recent hot weather will exacerbate that, however the significant threat of thunderstorms could change that dynamic completely if they become softer and more receptive.

History has proven that many types of players with different styles have succeeded here – it could be either a high GIR player who putts well, or someone in good putting form who finds more greens than normal who will prevail. Either way, birdies and low scoring are the order of the day, particularly if rain does soften up the putting surfaces.

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s BMW International Open that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event. As per the notes above, this week’s venue played host to the event from 2002-11 in this week’s data, plus 2013, 2015 and 2017: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Top 20 Finishes | Combined Stats.

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Winners & Prices. 2018: Wallace, 40/1; 2017: Romero, 300/1; 2016: Stenson, 10/1; 2015: Pablo Larrazabal, 60/1; 2014: Fabrizio Zanotti, 80/1; 2013: Ernie Els, 22/1; 2012: Danny Willett, 90/1; 2011: Pablo Larrazabal, 45/1; 2010: David Horsey, 150/1.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here. The lead up to the tournament has been dry and sunny with temperatures hitting the low 80s Fahrenheit, however there’s an increased risk of that weather pattern falling down as the tournament starts with thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rain possible from Thursday onwards. Temperatures will dip to the low 70s until the threat of these storms dissipates a little on Sunday, however whether we’re playing catch-up by that point in time remains to be seen.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors.

Analysing the final stats of the last 6 winners here on this track gives us a little more insight into the task at hand:

  • 2015, Pablo Larrazabal (-17). 281.8 yards, 66.1% fairways (22nd), 68.1% greens in regulation (33rd), 78.3% scrambling (5th), 1.73 putts per GIR (27th).
  • 2013, Ernie Els (-18). 295.9 yards, 55.4% fairways (50th), 88.9% greens in regulation (1st), 62.5% scrambling (18th), 1.78 putts per GIR (51st).
  • 2011, Pablo Larrazabal (-16). 280.3 yards, 76.8% fairways (2nd), 84.7% greens in regulation (2nd), 63.6% scrambling (25th), 1.75 putts per GIR (36th).
  • 2010, David Horsey (-18). 268.8 yards, 76.8% fairways (7th), 72.2% greens in regulation (34th), 75.0% scrambling (6th), 1.67 putts per GIR (13th).
  • 2009, Nick Dougherty (-22). 283.3 yards, 66.1% fairways (53rd), 76.4% greens in regulation (32nd), 64.7% scrambling (27th), 1.58 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2008, Martin Kaymer (-15). 293.1 yards, 60.7% fairways (45th), 86.1% greens in regulation (1st), 80% scrambling (1st), 1.77 putts per GIR (56th).

No stats were captured by the European Tour for 2017 winner Andres Romero.

Despite the course seemingly setting up nicely for the longer hitters with 4 gettable par-5s and a couple of very short par-4s, length off the tee hasn’t been the overriding factor in the winners listed here. Minimising bogeys on a low-scoring track is just as important as making the requisite red numbers – momentum-stoppers simply don’t lend themselves to success around these parts. Romero and Larrazabal made 7 bogeys apiece over 72 holes in their wins here in 2017 and 2015 respectively, Ernie Els made just 4 bogeys and a double over the 4 days back in 2013, Pablo Larrazabal made 6 bogeys, Horsey 5, Dougherty 7 and Kaymer 3 bogeys and a double on their respect paths to victory. The theme continues as you look further back in time also and keeping mistakes to a minimum will be critical in compiling a competitive score this week.

Incoming Form: Taking results at this venue in isolation, current form tends to be more of a factor here than some weeks which makes a level of sense given that there’s no room for seriously errant irons or a stone cold putter if you’re going to contend. The exception to this rule is undoubtedly Andres Romero who hadn’t made a cut all year until the point that he won here and at 300/1 he would have been an inspired choice to have plucked him out of the field as the eventual winner pre-event.

Prior to Romero’s success, Larrazabal in 2015 had gone off the boil a little although he’d finished 3rd in Morocco earlier in the year. Els came straight here from Merion where he’d finished 4th the week before, plus he’d finished 6th at Wentworth and 2nd in Indonesia in recent times so was in decent nick. Larrazabal (2011) had finished 11th at the Italian Open a fortnight before plus had recent contending performances including 4th in Wales and 3rd in Spain. Horsey had finished 2nd in the Italian Open a month before, Dougherty was 4th in Irish Open the previous month and Kaymer had produced a couple of top 10s in his previous 5 events plus had won earlier in the season in the Middle East.

  • 2017, Andres Romero: 67/MC/MC/MC/58/18/24/27/MC/MC/MC/MC
  • 2015, Pablo Larrazabal: 33/20/20/3/22/MC/49/MC/MC/43
  • 2013, Ernie Els: MC/14/13/MC/15/2/MC/6/37/4
  • 2011, Pablo Larrazabal: MC/18/44/30/10/3/49/MC/4/11
  • 2010, David Horsey: 11/60/29/MC/42/46/2/MC/MC/MC
  • 2009: Nick Dougherty: 14/MC/47/MC/48/31/4/13/MC/37
  • 2008: Martin Kaymer: 33/MC/57/39/MC/7/10/16/21/53

Course Form (back to 2008): With the exception of David Horsey in 2010, all other winners here over the same period of time had some practical experience of the course here in Munich and prior to Romero’s win, the previous 3 victors had each finished in the top 5 here before winning:

  • 2017, Andres Romero: 28/22
  • 2015, Pablo Larrazabal: 61/MC/3/1/MC
  • 2013, Ernie Els: 26/5/17/7/MC
  • 2011, Pablo Larrazabal: 61/MC/3
  • 2010, David Horsey: Debut
  • 2009: Nick Dougherty: 46/24/MC/50/30/MC/26
  • 2008: Martin Kaymer: 58/MC/MC

The highest ranked players have almost all come directly from Pebble Beach, either after an early exit on Friday or a long 4 days followed by a flight and a complete upheaval in their body clocks. Whether to chance such players is open to debate given the success of Els and Stenson in Germany in relatively recent times, however it’s clear that dismissing those returning from California out of hand is far from bulletproof.

With varying styles of play having won here in the past and question marks over how the weather may or may not affect the playing conditions of the course this week, I’ve gone a for a team of 5 players who offer a mix of GIR merchants and putters, with a smattering of aggression thrown in for good measure. My team for the week is as follows:

Jordan Smith 2pts EW 28/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Matt Wallace returns from a Major Championship to defend a European Tour title for the second time in the space of a month and quotes of between 10/1 and 12/1 aren’t the most attractive seeing as he visibly ran out of steam when attempting to defend the Made In Denmark. Wallace finished 12th at Pebble Beach, as did compatriot Matt Fitzpatrick, and both can be excused if they struggle to get straight back into the swing of things here in Munich, particularly if their patience is tested with a stop/start event. Instead I’m favouring another Englishman Jordan Smith who’s been striking his irons magnificently over the past few months.

Looking at the recent winners here at Golfclub München Eichenried, Martin Kaymer proved victorious in 2008 courtesy of a sublime week with his approach play (86.1% GIR, 1st in the field), as did Pablo Larrazabal in 2011 (84.7% GIR, 2nd) and Ernie Els in 2013 (88.9% GIR, 1st) and if there’s one player in the field who’s readily capable of matching those kind of numbers, it’s the Bath man. 1st for GIR in Saudi Arabia, 6th for GIR in Qatar, 3rd for GIR in Malaysia, 6th for GIR in Morocco, 1st for GIR in China and 2nd for, you’ve guessed it, GIR at Hillside have been impressive displays of ironplay and it’s testament to his game at present that a missed cut in Denmark on his last start was his first blank weekend since last year’s US PGA Championship in August. That consistency has driven a par-4 scoring average of 14th on Tour and, perhaps crucially for this week, a bogey avoidance rank of 2nd on Tour.

With a player like Smith, contending performances come readily when the putter warms slightly to compliment his strong approach play and it’s been noticeable that 4 consecutive sub-1.8 putting performances prior to Denmark produced form figures of 7/14/5/6 for the 26 year-old. 44th here on course debut in 2017 doesn’t scream impending success, however Smith was 18th to halfway and only hit 63.9% of greens that week – with a far stronger game in that respect right now, I’d expect him to improve significantly over that effort and contend for a second German success having won his maiden title in the country in 2017 at the Porsche European Open. Result: T3

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Romain Langasque 1pt EW 66/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Another player who pounds the greens in the requisite number when on his game is Romain Langasque. The 24 year-old has been threatening a breakthrough on the European Tour all season having tried and failed in his first attempt at this level in the 2017 season, and it appears that the Frenchman is increasingly assured at this level. 2nd at the BMW SA Open before Christmas was a positive sign and finishes of 6th in Kenya, 5th in China and 3rd Denmark over his last 6 starts have all impressed as he seeks out that maiden success.

34th for GIR for the season-to-date doesn’t tell the whole story as he’s still an inconsistent sort – 2 missed cuts in his last 3 outings is a case in point – however when the mood takes him he’s a capable player at this kind of level.1st for GIR in Kenya, 2nd for GIR in China and 6th for GIR in Denmark are the kind of figures I’m looking for when seeking out a player who fits the same mould as Jordan Smith and the aforementioned players who succeeded here through some sublime approach play on the week.

31st here on his 2017 debut is some practical experience of the course and it’s worth considering that he was really struggling at this level at the time and had missed the cut on his 7 previous starts prior to that. Clearly a step above 2 years down the line and with far stronger signs heading into this week, I can see Langasque featuring here this week. Result: MC

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Chris Paisley 1pt EW 50/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Of the names that interested me this week, Pablo Larrazabal was the one who narrowly missed out. The Spaniard has won twice around this track and has shown flashes of form in recent times and although he’s declared himself fit after withdrawing from the Belgian Knockout with a recurrence of an old wrist injury, he’s a watching brief for me at present. Ross Fisher and Oliver Wilson also came close, however I’m going to balance my opening two ‘GIR merchant’ selections with a couple of capable putters given that other winners here have triumphed due to their performances on and around the greens – with new, improved Bentgrass putting surfaces in place this week, it’s equally likely that a strong putter gets over the line in my view.

Fitting the bill nicely is Chris Paisley who obliged for us at 40/1 in the 36-hole leader market in Belgium on his last start. Rounds of 65/65 followed up the promise that he’d shown with a 4th place finish at the Made In Denmark and although that worked out perfect for us from a betting perspective, it doesn’t equal a second trophy for the 33 year-old’s mantelpiece seeing as he went out of the tournament in the second round of matches on the Saturday. His form is clearly good though and we know that the Englishman can maintain top gear when he finds it having backed up his breakthrough win in South Africa at the start of 2018 with consecutive top-5 finishes in the Middle East.

Paisley can undoubtedly blow hot and cold, so taking a chance on him while he’s in decent nick seems like a decent ploy and his 3rd place finish here in 2015 adds further encouragement. He went out in the final Sunday group alongside James Morrison but could only shoot 1-under to allow Pablo Larrazabal to bypass him, although he clearly wasn’t helped by playing partner who produced a birdie-free 5-over from the lead as the pressure told. Still, Chris led the putting stats that week on this track and with new, improved surfaces in play this week, I can see him getting in the mix here once again. Result: MC

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Robert MacIntyre 1pt EW 50/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Continuing the excellent putter theme, I’m also taking a chance on Scotland’s Robert Macintyre who’s seriously impressed over the past few weeks. Following an excellent amateur career, the 22 year-old has taken to the professional circuit well with a win on his 4th start on the MENA Tour and he came close last year on both the Challenge Tour and China Tour, missing out in a play-off twice as he looked to add another win to his CV.

This is MacIntyre’s course debut as well as his professional debut in Germany, however he’s clearly not been overawed at European Tour level on course debut in recent weeks with 2nd at the British Masters, 2nd at the Made In Denmark and 7th after 36 holes at the Belgian Knockout. On a course that could well prove to be soft and receptive if the forecast storms do arrive, then aggressive birdie-making could be the strongest currency and the Oban man led the field at Hillside on that count with 24 birdies made, was 3rd on the same statistic at the Made In Denmark with 21, and also led the field after 36 holes on the red numbers in Belgium with 14 made in total.1st, 5th and 1st for putting average over those 3 starts is seriously impressive form with the flat stick and if this does turn into a putting competition then Robert could be the man who prevails. Result: T49

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Alexander Levy 1pt EW 110/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Finally I’m going to take a chance on one of my old favourites Alexander Levy who’s too tempting to leave out at a triple-digit price. The ever-smiling Frenchman was sporting more of a grimace when retiring from the Oman Open due to a back issue earlier this year having finished 5th in Saudi Arabia on his previous start, however now pain-free and having struggled to get back into a competitive groove for a while following that issue, there were signs at the Belgian Knockout that his game was getting back to normal. 17th after the strokeplay element after 36 holes and 75% GIR was a vast improvement over the 4 previous missed cuts and a return to Germany, where he’s enjoyed success in the past, could well trigger further improvement this week.

The 28 year-old thrives in soft, receptive conditions and if the forecast thunderstorms and accompanying rain does arrive then he could find himself in his element. 2 of Levy’s 5 European Tour successes have come in rain-shortened events where sopping wet conditions led to the kind of target practice that he thrives upon and although we’re relying on the weather to help us out here, at a 3-figure price I’m happy to take that chance.

3rd here in 2013 where he led going into Sunday, Levy has won on German soil at the 2016 Porsche European Open and he came within a 3-foot putt of making it a second success in this country when defending his title a year later, ultimately losing to Jordan Smith in the play-off. A win at last year’s Trophee Hassan II will have finally exorcised any demons still lingering following that near miss and this aggressive birdie-maker could thrive on the new Bentgrass greens here in Munich. Result: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 07:55BST 18.6.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.