It was sheer driving pleasure on the first day of the BMW International Open as big-hitting Argentine Angel Cabrera moved to the front of the grid alongside Robert-Derksen of The Netherlands and Australian Brett Rumford with an opening seven under par 65 at Golfclub Munchen Nord-Eichenried.
Cabrera made a superb start in his bid for a BMW double as he looks to add the BMW International Open title to the BMW Championship he won in such style at Wentworth Club in May.
Seven birdies and an eagle propelled Cabrera to the top of the leaderboard, further enhancing his chances of breaking into the World Top ten from his current position of 13th.
Cabrera may be one of the longest hitters of the ball in Europe but even he had to take a back seat in the driving competition to John Daly, the 2001 champion out-driving him by as much as 30 yards on most holes. But while Daly also made seven birdies, he dropped three shots to lie three strokes off the lead.
“I made a bogey on the first but apart from that I played very good today,” said Cabrera. “Hit good drivers, good irons and holed every putt. If you hit a good driver it makes the course easier.
“I am very confident and have played very well. My putter is much better than last year. I think that is the key.”
Derksen is another winner this year having captured the Madeira Island Open in April to sit alongside his Dubai Desert Classic victory in 2003. Like Cabrera he too eagled the par five sixth hole and a further six birdies, with just one bogey spoiling his card, lifted him to the top of the leaderboard. Playing in the second group of the day, he set an early target that only Cabrera and Rumford could match.
For Rumford it was a remarkable change of fortunes as the Australian has struggled both technically and mentally over the last two months. But a two week break back home in Perth provided plenty of rest and relaxation and he has come out refreshed having got rid of the “garbage” that was cluttering his mind.
Scoring was typically impressive for the Munich course, treating the record 17,000 spectators to a day packed full of birdies.
Thomas Bjorn, runner-up in the US PGA Championship a fortnight ago and winner here in 2002 and 2002, heads the chasing pack of nine players on six under par 66. David Howell, joint fifth last week in the WGC – NEC Invitational, continues his resurgence after returning from injury to post a 66 as did his Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter.
Philip Archer, David Griffiths, Peter Hedblom, Maarten Lafeber, Jean-Francois Lucquin and Grame Storm made equally sound starts to the tournament.
A shot further back lies Luke Donald and Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam in the group on five under par, Donald recovering from a double bogey on his opening hole by finishing with three birdies and an eagle in his last five holes.
Paul McGinley, with Formula One’s Eddie Jordan on the bag, raced off the starting line with four birdies in his first five holes. He moved to five under par but slipped up on the back nine to finish on four under par 68.
“We started as if we were on a qualifying lap but we got a puncture near the end but we got it home,” said Jordan.