After a year away from its spiritual home, the BMW International Open returns to Golfclub München Eichenried where the players will face a longer and wetter test ahead of Thursday’s opening round.
Last year the tournament was relocated to Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, Cologne, where Danny Willett triumphed in extra holes over Marcus Fraser, but in the two years since its last visit to Munich a few changes have been made to a course which has hosted this event 21 of the past 25 years.
New tees have been added on both the par three second, where an additional 20 yards has been added, and the par five sixth, where an extra 50 yards is available depending on the placement of the tee.
The infamous water hazards guarding the driveable par four 16th and dramatic par five closing hole have also been altered, making both much more prominent, and ensuring that either could play a role on Sunday as the title hangs in the balance.
One man who has mastered the Golfclub Munchen Eichenried layout in its previous forms is 2011 champion Pablo Larrazábal, who fired an impressive 16 under par total en route to defeating compatriot Sergio Garcia at the fifth extra hole two years ago.
The previous year, Larrazábal had come within a whisker of taking the title only to falter on the final few as David Horsey took the spoils, but his second European Tour title 12 months later ensures the Spaniard returns to Munich excited about the week ahead.
“It’s good to come back here as this golf course has given me a couple of good results over the years,” said Larrazabal. “Back in 2010 I was leading the championship with three holes to play until I finished double bogey-bogey-par to lose the tournament by two, and then I came back in 2011 and I won it.
“There are a few changes on the golf course, it is a little bit longer, but they are still the same greens with the same pin placements and it is a golf course where I know how to shoot low.”
To shoot those low numbers though, Larrazábal believes the secret is clear – hit the fairways.
“All the holes out there are birdie holes if you find the fairway, but if you are off line it is always a tough second shot so I’m looking forward to putting the ball in the fairway and to try and attack these greens.
“I’m not sure why I’ve had such success here in the past, but for some reason I like the tight fairways and like I’ve said, this is a course where you have to put the ball in the fairway to have a chance to score low, and that’s something I am able to do.”
Larrazábal will get his tilt at a second title here underway from the tenth tee on Thursday morning at 8.40am alongside Sweden’s Alex Noren, who is in good form after a tie for fourth at the Nordea Masters last time out, and Englishman David Lynn, who lost out in a play-off to American Derek Ernst at the Wells Fargo Championship on the US PGA Tour in May.