BMW International Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
THE BMW International Open was postponed last year because of the pandemic. When it was last played two years ago, Andrea Pavan won in dramatic fashion. He began the final round trailing by four shots. But after an exciting final day, the Italian found himself hoisting his second career European Tour trophy.
Pavan posted 6-under 66 at Golf Club Munchen Eichenried with birdies at two of his final three holes to get in the clubhouse at 15 under, and then defeated Matthew Fitzpatrick in a two-hole playoff. Both players traded pars after the first extra trip down the par-5 18th hole, but Pavan earned the victory with a short birdie make on the second playoff hole.
“It's amazing,” said Pavan, who won the Czech Masters in 2018 for his maiden title on the European Tour. Before that, Pavan had bounced around, twice graduating from the Challenge Tour and twice more making it through Q-School.
“Two years ago I was really struggling. I can't thank enough my coach, my caddie, my family, my wife.”
Fitzpatrick had a chance to win outright. He was tied for the lead at 15 under with two holes to play but bogeyed the par-three 17th hole. He needed a closing birdie to force a playoff, where he nearly found the water with his second shot on the first extra hole – heavy rain on the final afternoon had caused the ball to plug instead of rolling into the penalty area. He found the sand the second time around and couldn’t get up and down for his birdie.
“I'm obviously disappointed,” Fitzpatrick said. “I've been playing well, that showed coming here and getting into a playoff. It's a good week overall, but disappointed not to top it off.”
Matthias Schwab led by two shots with seven to play, but bogeys at the 14th and 15th dropped the Austrian to 13 under, where he finished in a tie for third with six others - and he is still looking for that maiden victory.
Trasditionally, the week after majors played in the USA sees weaker than normal fields on the European Tour but Norway’s Viktor Hovland is the star attraction at this week’s BMW International Open. It is a sure sign of his commitment to cement his place on Padraig Harrington’s European Ryder Cup team to take on the Americans at Whistling Straits in September. And he is joined by some of Europe’s finest, including Sergio Garcia, Bernd Wiesberger, and Martin Kaymer.
Hovland is a shoo-in for the team and will be a huge asset. His form since turning professional has been simply sensational. He only joined the paid ranks in 2019 but ahead of the US Open he was fifth in the FedEx Cup standings and 13th in the world rankings. His rise has been nothing short of meteoric. This season alone he has won once on the PGA Tour, twice finished second and twice finished third, missing just one cut in 18 starts. He finished 21st at The Masters in April and 30th at the US PGA Championship in May after back-to-back third-place finishes at the Valspar and Wells Fargo.
Incredibly, there is a perception within the sport that he has a weakness around the greens, but everything he has thus far achieved would seem to rubbish that argument. Put simply, this 23-year-old has absolutely no weaknesses.
He became the first Norwegian to win on the PGA Tour when he triumphed at the 2020 Puerto Rico Open, collecting his second victory at the Mayakoba Classic. His success should surprise nobody. He did, after all, win the US Amateur Championship in 2018, the first player from his country to achieve the feat. It earned him invitations into the 2019 Masters, US Open and Open Championship. He also played in the 2018 Australian Open and finished in a tie for 13th place as an amateur.
Hovland was the low amateur at the 2019 Masters, where he ended in a tie for 32nd place with a three-under-par total - a performance that took him to the top of the world amateur rankings. He did even better at the 2019 US Open, finishing 12th with a score of 280, which was the lowest 72-hole score by an amateur in the US Open, breaking the previous record of 282, set by none other than Jack Nicklaus in 1960. He became the first player to claim low amateur honours at both The Masters and US Open in the same season since Matt Kuchar in 1998. It was enough to persuade him to turn professional, thus forfeiting his entry to The Open.
In February 2020, Hovland became the first Norwegian to win on the PGA Tour when he won the Puerto Rico Open, and he topped that in December last year when he birdied the final hole to claim the Mayakoba Classic.
He was born in Oslo and started playing golf when he was 11 after his father, who worked in America, bought him a set of clubs. His father then taught Hovland to play. His favourite golfer growing up was Garcia, and he says that his favourite course is Valderrama. He learnt to speak English by watching movies and attended Oklahoma State University, where he was a teammate of Matthew Wolff.
The tournament was won in 2015 by Pablo Larrazabal, in 2016 by Henrik Stenson, in 2017 by Andres Romero, in 2018 by Matt Wallace and in 2019 by Andrea Pavan.
Golf Club Munchen Eichenried is regarded as the best course in Germany and has hosted the tournament more than 20 times. Measuring 7,283 yards, it is a parkland course featuring plenty of trees and several water hazards.
To be frank, it is difficult to see beyond Hovland - you have just read all about his form. And he isn’t here to make up the numbers.
Viktor Hovland. Looking for first win on European soil
Sergio Garcia. Could do with a few decent weeks
Players to Follow:
Viktor Hovland. Has it all
Sergio Garcia. It’s all down to the putter with Sergio
Martin Kaymer. What better place to end his drought?
Bernd Wiesberger. Glorious ball striker
Outsiders to Watch:
Pep Angles. Has shown some flashes of form
Thorbjorn Olesen. Getting there slowly but surely
Andrea Pavan. Has been struggling horribly but will return with good memories
David Law. Gifted Scottish golfer
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