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: