Fantasy Golf: BMW International Open preview

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It was a remarkable week in every sense at Chambers Bay as Jordan Spieth sealed a dramatic triumph (with a little help from Dustin Johnson) to reward all of us who remained glued to our televisions long into the night. If Spieth’s victory was last-gasp, that of weekly winner Jeremy Mathers was anything but. His ‘Villans’ team of Spieth, Oosthuizen, Johnson, Kisner, Reed and Koepka did him proud to score 438 and cruise to the win by 21 points.

This week we cross back over the Atlantic for the BMW International Open. It is the first of three straight European Tour events on the Fantasy Golf calendar as the build-up to the Open Championship begins in earnest.

After a year away in Cologne, Germany’s sole European Tour event returns to Golfclub München Eichenried. This short par 72 is usually there for the taking with flat fairways and reachable par fives. Water hazards will keep the players on their toes but low scores are expected again with the average winning mark sitting at 17.8 under par for the previous five renewals. The weather is set fair too, with only an outside chance of rain and stronger winds on Saturday afternoon to worry those that make the weekend.

A good field has been assembled with national hero Martin Kaymer joined by in-form figures Henrik Stenson, Shane Lowry and Chris Wood. The Munich venue hosted this event from 1997 to 2011 and then again in 2013 and the list of winners here is impressive. Karlsson, Montgomerie, Bjorn, Daly, Westwood, Jimenez, Howell, Stenson, Kaymer and Els are among them.   

The South African tasted victory most recently here in 2013. That week, Els finished in the top-10 in greens in regulation, sand saves and par 5 scoring but was lower than 50th in driving accuracy and putts per round. That last stat was strange for the week with four of the top six ranking 15th or higher in the same category. Of the same six players, only Bernd Wiesberger was in the top-20 in driving distance. Therefore, given the wide, flat nature of the fairways and the relatively short total yardage, this becomes less a bomber’s challenge and more a ball-striker’s one. Accurate approach play and a tight short game look to be the keys this week. Here’s who I’m backing…   

Henrik Stenson, £5.0m
Might have broken his major duck at Chambers Bay if the putter had fired over the weekend. Tied for 27th still represented a decent week and he was 13th at his home event a fortnight before as another poor Sunday deprived him. Bound to close one out soon and his record here is impressive, winning in 2006 and finishing in the top-10 on his last two visits.

Thomas Bjorn, £1.8m
After a quiet time of it the Dane has shown signs of recovery in recent weeks, finishing 11th at Wentworth and 21st in Sweden. He loves this place, winning in 2000 and 2002 and finishing runner-up in 2013.

Joost Luiten, £1.8m
Surprise package at Chambers Bay where he started 68-69 before fading away over the weekend. Another one who likes it in Munich – 10th, 3rd and 11th on his three previous visits here.

Matthew Fitzpatrick, £1.0m
Englishmen have won three of the last five in Munich (Willett, Horsey and Dougherty) and the 20-year-old could be the next to break through. Sits seventh on the Tour’s greens in regulation rankings, was third in Austria and eighth in Ireland.  

Rafael Cabrera-Bello, £1.0m
The Spaniard is knocking on the door. Runner-up in Austria, 13th in Sweden and fourth in Ireland in his last three starts. Mixed set of results here but a third-place in 2010 shows he’s comfortable with the layout.

Scott Jamieson, £0.9m
Another man showing signs of form. Nothing lower than 31st in his last four European Tour starts since the Spanish Open five weeks ago. Was third here in 2011.

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