German golfing greats from two generations – Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer – will come together for the first time since the Masters Tournament at Augusta National in April when they compete in the 20th anniversary of the BMW International Open this week.
The duo head the 14 strong home challenge in an event that has again attracted an international field with England's Paul Casey, defending champion Fasth; South African Retief Goosen and the reigning BMW PGA Champion Miguel Angel Jiménez of Spain, who finished tied sixth in the US Open, leading the challenge from the top 50 on the Official World Golf Rankings. American John Daly, winner in 2001, is also in the field although the English pair of Luke Donald and Ian Poulter were both forced to withdraw suffering from wrist injuries incurred during the US Open.
Understandably, however, the patriotic home crowds at Golfclub München Eichenried, which plays host to the €2 million tournament for the 12th year in succession, will focus their support on Langer and Kaymer.
Langer, of course, has been the patriarchal figure of German golf for decades and returns home in fine form, having won twice on the US Champions Tour to date in 2008 as well as narrowly missing out on claiming his first Senior Major title when Jay Haas pipped him to the US Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club last month.
However the 50 year old – a 42 time winner on The European Tour International Schedule – will travel to Munich aiming to right one of the strangest anomalies in world golf. For, although he has won countless titles around the globe and every other European Tour event in Germany, Langer has yet to taste success in the BMW International Open.
The 2004 European Ryder Cup Captain very nearly put that statistic right in a thrilling battle with Niclas Fasth 12 months ago before the Swede eventually produced the crucial shots in the closing stages to give him his sixth European Tour title.
One player not to feature in the weekend action last year was Kaymer but, in all honesty, it was one of the few disappointments for the 23 year old from Dusseldorf who enjoyed a fantastic first season on The European Tour, one which culminated in him becoming the first German golfer to be named The Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.
Since then, the former German Amateur champion has gone from strength to strength. He claimed his first European Tour title in January, holding off the challenges of Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood to win the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and has augmented his experience with his first visit to the Masters Tournament, where he only missed the cut by one shot, and his debut in the US Open Championship last week where he acquitted himself well and contested all four rounds at Torrey Pines.
“I am very much looking forward to playing in the BMW International Open,” he said. “I have had success on The European Tour but it would be great to follow that up with further success in my home country.
“Playing in Germany is always special for me. Sure, there is bit more pressure than in other tournaments in other countries but the support of the crowds is fantastic and I hope that I can put on a good show and give them something to cheer about.”