Defending champion Thomas Björn once again showed his liking for the BMW International Open, picking up eight birdies in an exhilarating last ten holes at GolfClub München Nord-Eichenried for a 64 but that was still not enough to lead as Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin raced clear with a course record equalling 62, ten under par.
It was Jacquelin’s second opening round of 62 this month following his blistering start to the Nordic Open three weeks ago and took him two clear of Björn, local favourite Marcel Siem of Germany, and the English pair of Gary Emerson and David Howell.
Having arrived at Golfclub München Nord-Eichenried in a BMW Z8, a car he won for a hole in one here two years ago, Jacquelin, starting at the tenth, sped to the turn in 30 strokes. A back nine of 32 helped him become the sixth player to shoot 62 here.
“I played great, of course,” said Jacquelin. “I just tried to be confident on every shot as I am hitting the ball very well at the moment. It is all about confidence. I tried to really concentrate on that and it worked. I hit all the par fives in two except the ninth which helped.”
Björn, chasing a title hat-trick having also won in 2000, made a slow start from the tenth with eight pars but his patience paid off as he hit top gear on his back nine as he reeled off five birdies in succession to finish.
“I was getting a bit frustrated over the first few holes but my caddie Billy Foster told me to stay patient as you can easily birdie five holes in a row on this course, and that was exactly what I did to finish,” said Björn.
“The last nine holes were very, very good. I haven’t hit the ball as well as that since the Open. When you shoot 29 you have to be happy. In the end I got what I deserved and I am pleased with the score out there. You have to hit at least one really low score this week and the rest 66s or 67s. This is a good start and gives you an opportunity for the rest of the week.”
Last month Björn finished joint runner-up in successive weeks in the Open Championship and the Nissan Irish Open, but has struggled over the past two weeks in America. However, something clicked on the range yesterday when coach Simon Holmes mentioned he was standing too far from the ball at address.
“I’ve worked hard with my coach Bob Torrance and he has done wonders for my golf but sometimes you just need that little thing and someone from outside will walk past and say ‘Hang on, this is what it wrong’. I have only had two lessons with Simon before, both here in 2000 and 2002!”
Siem gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about in his bogey free 64, his caddie Max Zachmann credited with helping him be less aggressive on the course. “I am a long hitter and he stops me always hitting at full power and taking the high risks,” said the 23 year old Qualifying School graduate.
He also benefited from some local knowledge having been a member of Golfclub München Nord-Eichenried for five years and winning the club championship before moving to Dusseldorf.
Siem first graduated for The European Tour in 2001 through the Qualifying School bu narrowly missed out on retaining his card when he finished 131st in the Volvo Order of Merit despite two top tens, including fifth place at in the Diageo Championship at Gleneagles. He immediately regained his position on The European Tour, once again through the Qualifying School, and is currently 105th in the Volvo Order of Merit.
Like Jacquelin, Howell picked up ten birdies but bogeys at the 12th and 14th cost him a share of the lead while Emerson raced through the field with a back nine of 29 which included three birdies and an eagle in his last five holes.
The group of players on seven under par includes 1997 champion Robert Karlsson and the English pair of Paul Casey and Lee Westwood while Ernie Els, the current leader of the Volvo Order of Merit and World Number Two, opened his account with a four under par 68.