Following his confidence-boosting performance at the US Open Championship, Martin Kaymer is set to receive a rapturous reception at this week’s BMW International Open, a tournament he won in memorable fashion in 2008.
Shortly after finishing inside the top 15 at the Olympic Club on Sunday night, Kaymer boarded a flight bound for Cologne to compete in the 24th edition of the €2million event, which for the first time will be played this year at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, near Cologne.
The 7,289 yards, par 72 course, which was designed by 18-time Major Champion Jack Nicklaus, is located less than 20 miles from Kaymer’s home town of Düsseldorf.
BMW Ambassador Kaymer finished in a tie for eighth place on his last competitive outing at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, in the 2008 Mercedes-Benz Championship, and the 2010 US PGA Champion will call on his intimate knowledge of the course as he bids to repeat his success of four years ago.
Then, Kaymer went into the final day of the BMW International Open with a six-stroke lead thanks to rounds of 68-63-67 over the first three days, only for Denmark’s Søren Hansen to overturn an eight-shot deficit in the final round and force a play-off.
However, Kaymer was not to be denied, as he birdied the first extra hole to become the first home winner of the BMW International Open.
Since that victory, Kaymer has a further eight European Tour titles to his name – including a WGC victory and that Major success at Whistling Straits – but the World Number 13 will always recall his 2008 triumph with particular fondness.
Kaymer is now intent on delivering another bravura performance on home soil as he seeks to cement his place in Europe’s 2012 Ryder Cup Team.
He said: “Obviously I have very happy memories of my win in 2008, which was probably the most emotional victory of my career. A lot has happened since then but I’ll never forget that week for as long as I live, because it was a very special moment for me – and also for the fans.
“The tournament is obviously at a different venue this week, but I know the course very well and it’s great that BMW takes the tournament to different parts of the country – especially as there are lots of golf fans in west Germany. It’ll be great for my friends and family to come along, because I only live 20 minutes away from the course, and it’ll also be great for me to sleep in my own bed – which is very rare at a tournament.
“After playing at the Olympic Club last week, I’m sure I’ll find birdies a bit easier to find here this week. You can afford to be much more aggressive and the greens are very good, so I expect to see some low scoring. Hopefully I can take my form from the US Open into this week and give the fans something to cheer about.”
As well as Kaymer, the home crowds will also be cheering two-time Masters Tournament champion Bernhard Langer, who has come agonisingly close to victory at the BMW International on several occasions, finishing runner-up five times – most recently behind Sweden’s Niclas Fasth in 2007.
The 2010 Senior Open Champion has tasted success at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof when the venue hosted the 2001 German Masters – a tournament he had previously won on three occasions.
Other players in this week’s field who have also triumphed in the German Masters at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof include Major Champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand, who won in 2000; Spaniard Sergio Garcia (1999), who finished in a tie for 38th place at last week’s US Open Championship; South African Retief Goosen (2005), who finished in the top ten at the Olympic Club; his compatriot James Kingston, who won in 2009; and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, who won in 1998 and then took the BMW International Open title the following year.
Montgomerie is one of nine past winners of the BMW International Open, with two-time champion Thomas Björn of Denmark (2000 and 2002), American John Daly (2001), the Spanish duo of Miguel Angel Jiménez (2004) and defending champion Pablo Larrazábal, the English pair of David Howell (2005) and David Horsey (2010), and the Swedish duo of Henrik Stenson (2006) and Fasth (2007) all in attendance at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof this week.
Larrazábal claimed the title 12 months ago when he defeated compatriot Garcia in a play-off after the pair tied on 16 under par 272 at Golfclub München Eichenried.