Golfclub München Eichenried was awash with top sporting talent on the eve of the BMW International Open as heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko and Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller teed it up in the pre-tournament Pro-Am.
Klitschko, the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight Boxing Champion, was greeted by Open Champion Ernie Els on the first tee amidst a throng of people as the large crowds clambered to get a glimpse of the towering Ukrainian in action.
Amongst such excitement it was hard to believe that an athlete who has faced down some of the biggest and best fighters on the planet was overheard admitting to his playing partners that he was “really nervous”, but those nerves were certainly evident after a powder-puff opening drive.
Klitschko was also joined by Bosnia and Bayern Munich legend Hasan Salihamidžić, who won six Bundesliga titles during almost a decade at the club, and German TV chef Frank Rosin, but the 37 year old was especially excited to be playing with Els.
“I’m so pleased today to be playing with an already living legend, Ernie Els,” said the 1996 Olympic Gold medallist. “It’s a great experience.
“Unfortunately I don’t get to play golf often, but I’m a really big fan of this game and I wish I could play more.
“I have also played with John Daly in the past too, at the Pro-Am tournament in Hamburg, which was really cool. These are really enjoyable times.”
It was another glorious day some 18 miles north east of downtown Munich, with temperatures cresting as high as 35 degrees Centigrade in the middle of the afternoon, and another man used to the heat of sporting battle was also heading out onto the course.
Müller is currently relaxing after one of the most successful campaigns in German football history, helping his Bayern Munich side to a record 25 point margin of victory in the Bundesliga, as well as German Cup success and a victory over bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium, held the week of the BMW PGA Championship back in May.
The German international had ten-time European Tour winner Sergio Garcia for company on Wednesday, and he was clearly excited to get going.
He said: “Over the last year I have played more golf than in the past, but I like the sport and I’m really happy to be playing with Sergio, it should be fun.
“My game is OK but my handicap is 25, so I’d like to try and get that down to 15 by the end of the summer.”