After a gripping finale, Lee Westwood emerged triumphant as the 2003 BMW International Open winner at the Munich North-Eichenried golf club on Sunday. He won in style – closing with three birdies for a score of 66, 19 under par. The 30-year-old Englishman finally claimed his first European Tour Victory since 2000.
"I am fairly emotional," he said. "This is a big moment."
At the same time, he prevented a first German victory in the tournament on the outskirts of the Bavarian metropolis. Alex Cejka challenged bravely in the last round closing in on the leaders. In the end, however, the 32-year-old lacked the decisive stroke of luck to win the title. The Czech-born player shot a fine round of 67 to tie for second place.
"This is brilliant,“ Cejka said. "I am really happy with my game this week.“
The Swede Robert Karlsson didn't consider himself quite as lucky. The winner of the BMW International Open 1997 had held the lead since mid way through the second round but faltered towards the end. A bogey at the eighth and double bogeys at the tenth and sixteenth put pay to his title hopes. He finished tied for eighth position.
The defending champion Thomas Bjorn also missed out on repeating his triumph in the BMW International Open. The Dane finished his tournament off with a disappointing 73, finishing eleven under par and tied for 17th position.
Alex Cejka had displayed his true fighting spirit on Saturday. The Czech-born player, who lived in Munich for many years, had entered the tournament alongside local hero Bernhard Langer, and his attacking style of golf soon started to reap rewards. Birdies at the third, fourth and sixth, helped the fourth-placed player in the PGA Championship to a tie for second position, and reduced Karlsson’s lead to just two strokes.
The spectators experienced a thrilling final. While Karlsson made a bogey at the eighth, both Cejka and Lee Westwood managed to close in to within one stroke of the Swede. Thirty minutes later Cejka and Westwood, with birdies at the 15th and 13th respectively, had joined Karlsson on fifteen under par. Feeling the pressure, Karlsson made a double bogey at the tenth with his hopes for victory fading. Cejka also dropped a shot at the 16th leaving Westwood as sole leader for the first time.
Hot on his heels was a chasing pack including Andrew Coltart, John Bickerton, and Peter Hedblom who had finished his round of 67 with a birdie. However, courtesy of birdies at the 16th and at the 17th, Westwood secured a three-stroke advantage and sealed victory.
Marcel Siem, going in to the final round in second position, fought bravely to close the gap to Karlsson to one shot. However, bogeys at the second, fifth, seventh and 14th ruined the 23-year-old's chances of winning the tournament, but the youngster finished a credible eighth in his best performance so far this year.
A blistering final round was turned in by two of the big names at the BMW International Open 2003. Ernie Els and Bernhard Langer raced up the final day leaderboard with respective rounds of 64 and 67. Els displayed a significantly improved performance, showing more of the form that has seen him rise to become the world number two. Els made four birdies on the front nine and, inspired by the audience's rapturous applause, the South African continued on the back nine making birdies at the 13th, 15th 16th and 17th en route to a superb 64 and an eleven under par total. He surpassed Bernhard Langer, who finished the tournament at ten under par. After an opening round of 67 and two rounds at par, Langer turned in another round of 67 on Sunday.
The golfer from Anhausen was visibly satisfied with his performance on the final day: "I putted very well today. Had I used this putter earlier, I might have been able to achieve more,“ Langer said.
He will definitely return to Munich again next year. Either just in his role as the Ryder Cup captain or possibly as a participant. It would be his 15th attempt to claim the title, and a chance to take the title from this year’s deserving winner, Lee Westwood.