This week the European Tour is in Germany for the BMW International Open.
This event looks a great prospect in fantasy and as a result will be the main focus of attention this week.
Recent history of the BMW International Open
This event was played in Munich until 2012 when it was played in Cologne for the first time. Since 2012 it has alternated between the two so as a result we are back in Cologne this year.
Pablo Larrazabal is defending this week after adding a second BMW International Open title to his resume. Despite winning the event twice (previous win was in 2011), neither win came at this course. The Spaniard has played this course on four occasions, making the cut each time and finishing 8th in 2014.
Other recent winners
2014 – Fabrizio Zanotti *
2013 – Ernie Els
2012 – Danny Willett *
2011 – Pablo Larrazabal
2010 – David Horsey
*These winners won at this week’s course
The Course (Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof)
Greens in Regulation – Hitting greens this week will be imperative. Three of the last five winners at this course have ranked inside the top-5 in Greens in Regulation. *
*Greens in Regulation stats also apply to the Mercedes-Benz Championship hosted here 2007-2009.
Maiden winners – In recent years; David Horsey, Danny Willett and Fabrizio Zanotti have all won their maiden European Tour title in this event. This means three of the last five winners at this event have been maiden winners. Both Willett and Zanotti won at this course and it would not be a surprise to see a third maiden Tour winner this week.
Strategy this week
Given that we are a week removed from the brutal U.S. Open at Oakmont, it looks a good time to take advantage of some value at this event.
I believe the reason we have had multiple first-time winners here recently is due to the Tour schedule. With it being a week after the U.S. Open it is hard to envisage someone who has gone four hard rounds in the second major of the year to fly over to Germany and win as well.
Of the last five winners only Ernie Els has won this event the week after playing in the U.S. Open.
I would not say that those who played the U.S Open cannot contend, it just seems hard. Henrik Stenson managed to finish 2nd here last year after four rounds of U.S. Open golf the week before, so it can be done.
As a result opposing a couple of those at the top-end may be wise. Some salaries will be inflated due to strong U.S. Open performances and some may struggle so soon after Oakmont.
There is value to be had on players that didn’t play last week but have played solidly on Tour recently and as a result I will base most of my line-ups around these guys below.
I am going to highlight one or two players from each price bracket (10,000+, $8,000-$9,900, $6,800-$7,900 and $6,700 and below.
Danny Willett ($11,300) – An exception to the rule. Whilst I am happy to oppose Garcia (who was in the heat of the battle last weekend) and also Henrik Stenson (who withdrew in round 2) I am not entirely happy to rule the other man at the top out. Willett is having a season dreams are made of and with him returning to the scene of his first win – good things can happen again.
Given he has won twice this year, including that wonderful win at Augusta, he seems decent value given he has already won here once before. After his win here in 2012 he came 8th on his return in 2014 and there is every chance Willett will add a second BMW International Open to his CV and a third win on the season. Willett also ranks 27th in Greens in Regulation this season on the European Tour – an important statistic.
Rikard Karlberg ($9,600) – Hopefully people take those just above him in terms of salary (Joost Luiten & Andy Sullivan) which may lower Karlberg’s ownership. In 9 events this year he has made 8 cuts and finished inside the top-10 on four occasions. He was $100 more last time out at the Nordea Masters and he came 7th that week. This came a week after his 2nd at Wentworth and two weeks after his 10th at the Irish Open. With form figures of 7-2-10-21-8-25-40 since his last missed cut, it makes perfect sense to me to keep playing him until he shows loss of form.
Andrew Johnston ($8,200) – Like Willett and Karlberg, Johnston is having a career-year, thanks to his win at the Open de Espana. Since then though “BEEF” as he is affectionately known has played pretty solidly. Since winning, he has finished 31st at the Trophee Hassan II , 7th at Wentworth, 12th at the Nordea Masters and 54th at the U.S. Open. He did however miss the cut at the Irish Open in between.
The great strides Johnston has made as a player this season has clearly worked wonders for his confidence. As a result of this new-found confidence he looks good value at just above the $8k mark. The icing on the cake was some course history – he finished 38th here in 2012. Johnston also ranks 16th in Greens in Regulation.
Alex Cejka ($7,500) – Cejka returns home off the back of some good performances on the PGA Tour. The German plays predominantly on the PGA Tour but plays in this event most years.
Cejka has won on the Web.Com Tour (2014) and the PGA Tour (2015) in recent years, so looks in good shape. This is a home event and last time he played here (2014) he finished 12th. Given that and his modest salary, he looks a must-play.
Cejka has three top-10’s on the PGA Tour this season, including a 9th at the Players three starts ago.
Robert Karlsson ($6,900) – Sticking with experience, another player in this range who may be value is Sweden’s, Robert Karlsson. A 22nd place finish here in 2014 was impressive but he also won the Mercedes-Benz Championship here. That win was eight years ago but he has a clear affinity with this course.
Age and injuries may well have caught up with the Towering Swede as he has made just 2/11 cuts this season. There is reason for hope however as he finished 12th at the Nordea Masters last time out. If he can repeat such an effort this week at a course he loves, $6,900 will be a bargain.
Chris Hanson ($6,700) – Hanson has made 8/10 cuts, finishing inside the top-10 twice this season. Both of those top-10’s have come on his last four starts and he looks a man in form. His form figures read 10-25-34-5 in his last four starts since missing the cut at the Open de Espana.
The main reason for concern is the fact he has not won on the Challenge or European Tour. He did lead the Trophee Hassan II after round three though, so he is getting closer.
At $6,700 you are getting an in-form golfer, who has top-20 potential at the very least.
Richard Green ($6,600) – If you are looking for someone to fill your line-up, this may be your guy. Green has made his last three straight cuts, which takes him to 4/9 cuts made this season. Before his recent run, things looked bleak for the experienced Australian so play him with caution.
Green has opened up his last two events with rounds of 67 (BMW PGA) and 68 (Nordea Masters), but it struggling to carry that form into the next three days.
If Green can put together more than one good round, he may look a good pick here. At this course he is 6/6 for cuts made on his last six starts here and finished 12th in 2014.
Clearly comfortable with the layout, he should hopefully make it a streak of four made cuts in a row on Tour.