Ryder Cup BMW preview

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Søren Hansen will make his Ryder Cup debut next week but first his attention turns to the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Cologne, where the Dane will defend the title when he lines up alongside three of his team-mates.

Hansen will become only the second Dane to compete in The Ryder Cup, after Thomas Björn, and he will be joined at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof by fellow debutant Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland along with seasoned campaigners Miguel Angel Jiménez of Spain and Sweden’s Robert Karlsson. But first his priority is a strong defence of the title he won a year ago.

The four Ryder Cup players - who you can choose in our exclusive Ryder Cup Fantasy League game - headline an elite 78-man field that includes 29 European Tour Champions from the 2008 European Tour International Schedule.

Hansen won the title in 2007 with a grandstand finish, making two eagles on the back nine at Gut Lärchenhof to win by four strokes, and claim the biggest win of his career. Since then he has continued to impress with a series of top ten finishes to secure this place on The European Ryder Cup Team.

Jiménez is another player with his game in good shape. After a three-week break the 44 year old, who will be the oldest player on the European Team at Valhalla, showed his competitive juices are flowing well with his tied third finish at last week’s Omega European Masters.

Karlsson is back in action after recovering from a neck injury which ruled him out of last week’s event in the Swiss Alps, while McDowell will be looking for his third victory of the year following his successes in the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea and The Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.

Jiménez, Karlsson and McDowell are all well positioned in the top six of The European Tour Order of Merit and still in with a chance of catching leader Padraig Harrington in the run-in to the end of the season.

The 2005 champion Retief Goosen, who has twice had the honour of topping the Order of Merit, is also in the field. Goosen’s best performances this year have been in the World Golf Championships events, with a tied second at the WGC-CA Championship and a tied fourth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and a similarly elite field may play into the South African’s hands.

Stuart Appleby of Australia and Daniel Chopra of Sweden, two players who ply much of their trade on the US PGA Tour, add an international flavour to the event, as do US Presidents Cup Captain Fred Couples and fellow American John Daly, always a crowd favourite in Germany.

Home favourite Bernhard Langer will be attempting to win his own tournament for a fifth time and become the oldest winner in European Tour history, and after his impressive season among the senior ranks, including his maiden European Seniors Tour victory at last week’s Casa Serena Open in the Czech Republic.

While Langer is the undisputed godfather of German golf, a new star is on the rise and Martin Kaymer will be looking for a second home victory of the season after his success in Munich in June. Kaymer, who also won in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in January, missed out on a Ryder Cup debut by the narrowest of margins when he finished in the unenviable position of 11th on the qualifying list, and the 23 year old will be aiming to put that disappointment behind him in front of the adoring home fans.

Alex Cejka and Marcel Siem add further weight to the home challenge in the €2 million event, whilst France’s Jean-Francois Lucquin also qualified courtesy of his maiden European Tour victory at last week’s Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

 

 

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