The BMW International Open moves to a new venue in Germany this year, as the tour reaches Cologne and Golf Club Gut Larchenhof. Luckily, there's plenty of course form to go on as this venue has hosted the German Masters / Mercedes-Benz Championship until 2009.
Many of the players who competed in the US Open last week will fly across the pond and will hope to use the excess adrenaline to their advantage in Germany. Headlining the field are home favourite Martin Kaymer (8.00) and last year's playoff loser, Sergio Garcia (12.00), both of whom performed admirably in tough conditions at the year's second major. Pablo Larrazabal and Garcia battled through a five-hole playoff at the BMW last year, and Garcia will be looking to avenge his defeat on that occasion.
The course - Gut Larchenhof
A Jack Nicklaus-designed course playing just under 7,300 yards to a par of 72, Gut Larchenhof provides a challenge. Players must hit the fairways and the greens to have a chance of scoring, because missing them can lead to trouble. When the German Masters was played here, rough was usually penal – both along the fairways and around the greens – and water hazards are prominent throughout. The premium here is very much on accuracy; scores can be made if you're on your game, but stray off the tee and expect some big numbers on the scorecard. The course is quite exposed and wind could play a big part.
Three from the pack
Ross Fisher is somewhat of a course specialist at Gut Larchenhof and is returning to his best at just the right time. Joint third here in 2008 and a top 20 finisher in 2009, Fisher is recapturing his form after a spell in the wilderness; he’s finished sixth and second in his last two events. His driving ability will give him a big advantage around this track, which bears similarities to the London Club, a course that Fisher enjoys playing. Fisher is currently trading at 18.00 for the win or 4.75 for the top five finish.
According to recent interviews, Raphael Jacquelin, trading at 40.00 or 9.00 for the place, feels he's coming into top form. His results would seem to echo this view: the Frenchman has just posted a T21st in the US Open after qualifying from a high quality field in first place. That was off the back of a top twenty in Wales which included a second round 65. The signs are that the Frenchman is gearing up for another title push - and why not this week, at a venue where he posted a third place finish at the German Masters in 2004?
Bernd Wiesberger, winner at the Ballantines earlier in the year, has been on my watch list for a number of years and is finally beginning to show his potential. The huge hitter recorded a top 20 at the Nordea Masters two weeks ago and could be ready for another challenge. A good week with the big stick should see the Austrian contend. He’s available with Unibet at 45.00 to lift the trophy or 10.00 for a top five.
One to watch
A resurgent David Drysdale (17.00 for the place) flew out of the blocks at the BMW at Wentworth and recorded a top 10 finish. He followed this with an 11th place in Wales and his competent all round game will stand him in good stead around here.