Thomas Björn captured his second BMW International Open in the space of three years, finishing four strokes ahead of John Bickerton and Bernhard Langer at Golfclub Munchen Nord-Eichenreid.
Björn, who beat Langer by three strokes two years ago, shot a final round 66, six under par, for a 24 under par total of 264 to claim his seventh European Tour title.
Starting the final round with a two shot lead, Björn was in complete control as he kept his nearest challengers at arms length to keep his lead intact.
Langer, winner of 11 titles on home soil, made a brave bid to win the one German title that has so far eluded him but Björn matched him shot by shot. Twice Langer chipped in to save par in the first five holes and 30 foot putts for birdie at the ninth and 11th holes kept the pressure on Björn.
But the Dane was able to parry Langer’s every thrust to stay in front and claim his first title since winning the Dubai Desert Classic after playing all four rounds in the company of World Number One Tiger Woods 18 months ago.
Björn matched Langer’s four birdies on the front nine to turn in 32, four under par, before dropping his first shot of the round on the tenth. But Björn immediately bounced back with successive birdies before finishing with a seventh birdie of the round on the final green to complete a notable victory.
Victory earned Björn €300,000 (£191,771) and lifted him into 13th place in the Volvo Order of Merit, sandwiched between Anders Hansen and Soren Hansen. It is the first time three Danish players have won in a single season on The European Tour International Schedule.
“I went out this morning to play as aggressive as I had all week and attack the course because I knew I needed to shoot a number,” said Björn. “Down the stretch it was in my control and I knew if I didn’t make any mistakes the tournament was mine.
“The key moment in the round was when Bernhard holed that long putt on the ninth and I rolled mine in after him. It kept the momentum going my way. At that point I felt the tournament was going to go my way.”
Björn’s victory was also a timely boost ahead of The 34th Ryder Cup Matches which take place at The De Vere Belfry later this month.
“It is always nice for a captain to see that with less than a month to go our games are coming together at the right time and I am sure Sam is sitting at home feeling very happy. It’s good for our competitiveness that Bernhard and I went out head to head as well. That is the feeling of playing under pressure you need a few weeks before The Ryder Cup so you can go in there and feel comfortable about the situation you are going to be in.”
Bouyed by the home galleries, Langer applied the pressure on Björn from the outset, rolling in birdies at the second, fourth and sixth holes as well as chipping in to save par on the third and fifth holes, but could not close the gap on the Dane. His final round of 68, four under par, gave him a 20 under par total of 268 but for the third time since 1995 he had to settle for second place.
“I played with Thomas all four rounds and he played very well all week,” said Langer. “He looked very comfortable with his swing, especially with the short game around the gren and didn’t miss many putts at all. Every time I made a birdie he seemed hit back with one of his own. I holed a very long putt on the ninth but Thomas countered immediately. I will come back next year and try and win this tournament to complete the set.”
Six birdies in the space of nine holes from the fourth put Bickerton right in the frame for his maiden European Tour title but three birdie chances over the last three holes stayed above ground, leaving him in a share of second place with Langer after a closing round of 66.
“It was a good effort again and if those three putts had gone in on the last three holes you never know,” he said. “But I thoroughly enjoyed the week again. I was on a nice roll but every time I looked up Thomas kept making another birdie. I got to 20 under par and thought I must be one behind now and I was three behind still. But I was really pleased the way I played. To shoot 66 in the last round, you have to be pleased with that.”