Paul Williams

Paul Williams' BMW International Open Tips 2021

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After the trials and tribulations of Torrey Pines last week where Jon Rahm 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 after a year’s break due to the pandemic.

This event does hop between here and another track in Cologne, so please be careful when reviewing the history stats as 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 events were held on the other course in the rotation.

As always, we have the post-Major dilemma to consider – will those players who endured 4 long days on the South California coastline be able to raise their game to compete here so soon afterwards?

10 players have made the journey straight to Munich to compete here, most notably (in terms of their result at Torrey) Louis Oosthuizen (2nd), Sergio Garcia (19th), Martin Kaymer (26th), Edoardo Molinari (35th) and Wade Ormsby (40th)

Missed cuts from Bernd Wiesberger, Johannes Veerman, Thomas Aiken and Matthias Schmid, plus an eye injury withdrawal from Viktor Hovland, completes the picture.

Adapting to the course here in Munich will be the main 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.

Most recently, Matthew Fitzpatrick lost out in a play-off to Andrea Pavan in 2019, having finished in a tie for 12th at Pebble Beach, so disregarding those who played – and contended – last week could be jumping the gun a little.

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Golfclub München Eichenried, Munich, Germany. Designer: Kurt Rossknecht, 1989; Par: 72; Length: 7,282 yards; Water Hazards: 10; Fairways: Poa/Rye; Rough: Poa/Rye; Greens: Bentgrass.

Course Overview. A slightly lengthened track at 7,283 yards for its par of 72 is still no problem for the modern professional, with 4 mid-range par-5s and couple of potentially driveable par-4s offering scoring opportunities. With generous fairways, the course is set up for attacking golf.

Historically the greens here had been tired, slow Bentgrass mixed with Poa Annua, however the putting surfaces were overhauled before the 2019 renewal and should have bedded in nicely in the intervening 2 years.

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.

bmw international open tips

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, 2017 and 2019:

Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | 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. 2019: Pavan, 100/1; 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.

Hot weather in Germany has given way to a mix of thunderstorms and sunny spells with the risk of electrical activity fairly high throughout the 4 days of tournament play. Temperatures will peak around the mid-70s Fahrenheit; winds will be light throughout so scoring should be good on a soft course.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors.

Analysing the final stats of the last 7 winners here on this track gives us a little more insight into the task at hand:

  • 2019, Andrea Pavan (-15). 300.1 yards, 51.8% fairways (44th), 79.2% greens in regulation (2nd), 80.0% scrambling (3rd), 1.75 putts per GIR (38th).
  • 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 here. Andrea Pavan was a case in point the last time the Tour visited these parts, making just 4 bogeys on his way to victory.

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 in 2017, and at 300/1 it 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.

Last time we visited this track in Munich, eventual winner Andrea Pavan arrived after 3 weeks off having missed his last cut at the Belgian Knockout. Prior to that his form had been solid if unspectacular with 4 finishes inside the top-27 on his previous 5 starts.

  • 2019, Andrea Pavan: MC/MC/34/31/MC/60/27/21/MC/15/25/MC
  • 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 in 2017, the previous 3 victors had each finished in the top 5 here before winning:

  • 2019, Andrea Pavan: MC
  • 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 generally come directly from Torrey Pines, 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 and Matt Fitzpatrick’s near miss last time we came here, however it’s clear that dismissing those returning from South California out of hand is far from bulletproof.

My team for the week is as follows:

Bernd Wiesberger 2pts EW 22/1 (5EW, ¼) with bet365

Those at the very top of the market this week should undoubtedly command a lot of respect. Viktor Hovland’s eye issue caused him to make an early exit last week at Torrey Pines, however prior to that 5 top-5 finishes on the PGA Tour since the start of the year, plus a 6th place finish in classy company in Saudi when he ventured over to the European Tour, makes him just about the worthy favourite.

I say ‘just about’ as you could argue with some conviction that Louis Oosthuizen, with runner-up finishes at the last 2 Majors and some practical, albeit distant, experience of this layout in Munich, should be top of the bookies’ lists. 13/2 vs 7/1 is splitting hairs though and may well have changed by the time you read this; suffice it to say, both men can win but both are very short, plus with injury question marks and disappointment factors coming across the Atlantic with them respectively, I’ll leave the pair alone.

Where Oosthuizen lacks any strong course form and Hovland lacks any form here whatsoever, Sergio Garcia at around 12/1 has a pair of runner-up finishes here in Munich and this event has been a regular on his schedule, despite playing most of his golf Stateside nowadays. I’d probably just favour Sergio if push came to shove over the other market principals, but I’m still not convinced that he’s putting confidently enough to win when the heat is on at the business end of a tournament.

The potential for a stop-start event if the forecast thunderstorms do appear could also frustrate the leading trio and instead I’ll start this week’s team just a little further down the list with Bernd Wiesberger.

A winner on European soil as recently as last month, it was interesting to note that he turned a missed cut at the PGA Championship the week prior into a 21-under total and a 5-stroke victory for his second win in Denmark. Last week’s missed cut on the number at Torrey Pines shouldn’t be too off-putting then, and we only have to go back to his Shenzhen International win in 2017 for further evidence that he can hit top gear after a Major outing as he’d finished 43rd at Augusta on his last start prior to victory.

3 European Tour wins between May and October 2019 also tells us that once Bernd finds the winning formula he’s apt to rattle off more than one victory in quick succession, and a return to this Munich track where he’s not missed a cut in 6 attempts, recorded a best of 4th in 2013, and closed his last visit here with a personal best round of 65 on this layout bodes well.

54th in the OWGR will be a motivating factor, as will his ranking of 12th in the Ryder Cup standings, having been leapfrogged by Guido Migliozzi’s fine effort last week on the US West Coast. 1st for SG Tee to Green and 3rd for SG Approach when victorious in Denmark tells us that his long game is in a good spot, and 10th for putting average on the newly-laid Bentgrass greens the last time we visited the track in 2019 is likely good enough should he repeat all those metrics here this week. RESULT: T5

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John Catlin 1pt EW 70/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Another recent winner worthy of support is John Catlin and after a couple of Stateside missed cuts, the bookies have him back on the mark at which he won his 3rd European Tour event since September when proving victorious in Austria back in April.

4 further Asian Tour wins since 2018 to add to his European successes all adds up to an impressive 7 wins in his last 75 starts globally, yet the bookies still seem to overprice him versus a number of winless peers and perennial Sunday chokers.

Wins ranging from +2 (Valderrama) to -22 (Sarawak Championship) shows a level of diversity and although it’s tended to be the tougher tests where he’s excelled thus far at European Tour level, 5th at the Tenerife Open where he shot a Thursday 63 and produced 26 birdies over the 4 days suggests we shouldn’t pigeon-hole him as a tough course specialist only at this stage of proceedings. Regardless, bogey avoidance has proven to be a useful asset here in Munich over the years and a tenacious approach might also be of use if this turns into a weather-affected, stop-start affair.

Missed cuts at the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Championship, despite an opening 67, and on his Major debut at Kiawah Island are the only real explanations for his price drifting to its currently level, however his last win came off of a missed cut and a break, so the American repeating that feat here this week wouldn’t be too much of a stretch in my view.

44th here on his only attempt 2 years ago came before he’d really found his feet at European Tour level; despite that he still recorded a second round 66 which was amongst the best of the day. With winning momentum and having had his first taste of Major golf, I can see a rested John Catlin right back in the mix here this week and eager for more silverware. RESULT: MC

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Pablo Larrazabal 1pt EW 70/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Betfred

If there’s to be a Spanish bounce narrative this week following Jon Rahm’s maiden Major success at Torrey Pines, then perhaps it’s Pablo Larrazabal who we should be focussing our attention on.

Barcelona man Larrazabal once stated that if he could bet if compatriot Rahm would win 10 or more career Majors then he would place that bet without hesitation, and the first component of that prophetic statement may well act as a shot in the arm as soon as this week.

The 38 year-old’s second of five European Tour victories came here in Munich in 2011 and he rubber-stamped his liking for this layout 4 years later when holding off Henrik Stenson by a stroke, so if there’s a likely venue for another bounce back to form then this is as good a candidate as any.

Recent form has been a little erratic with 4 missed cuts from his last 6 starts, however outside of that there have been some positive signs. 12th at the Tenerife Open was by far his best effort of the year and he closed that week with a sparkling 64 which was beaten only by eventual winner Dean Burmester.

He also shared the lead after round 1 on his penultimate start in Denmark and although he drifted to 19th by Sunday afternoon, 76.4% GIR was his best performance with his irons of the calendar year. His short game has been characteristically strong over those two efforts and that could be important again this week on a course which traditionally favours those who can keep their cards as clean as possible. RESULT: T17

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Dale Whitnell 1pt EW 150/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

Seeing the likes of Englishmen Richard Bland and Marcus Armitage, as well Northern Irishman Jonathan Caldwell, gain maiden successes in recent weeks could well inspire the likes of Dale Whitnell to bigger and better things.

Having turned professional in 2009 and finished 4th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship on just his 3rd start on Tour, the future looked bright for the former Walker Cup star who appeared in the same 2009 match as compatriots Chris Paisley and Tommy Fleetwood.

The following years didn’t go to plan though for the 32 year-old, who ended up on the Portugal Pro Tour, essentially a mini tour a few rungs down the ladder. Victory at that level’s Tour Championship earned him 5 precious starts on the Challenge Tour in 2019, an opportunity he grasped with both hands by finishing 3rd in Slovakia before winning the KPMG Trophy in a playoff over Laurie Canter.

27th at Q-School meant he scraped a European Tour card for 2020, however the step up to the top level wasn’t what he hoped for with 5 missed cuts from 5 starts in 2020 prior to the Tour’s suspension. 4th at the British Masters following the re-start and 6th in Cyprus were impressive enough efforts; now at 108th in the Race to Dubai, it won’t be long before opportunities such as this week really need to be taken if he wants an easier passage to playing at the top level again next season.

21st at the British Masters, 19th at the Made in Himmerland and 11th Porsche European Open showed good progression before he missed the cut at the Scandinavian Mixed, however some good recent putting performances coupled with season-long rankings of 12th for Bogey Avoidance and 23rd for GIR are encouraging pointers after his useful German debut last month at the Porsche. RESULT: T42

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:15BST 21.6.21 but naturally subject to fluctuation.