Henrik Stenson returns to Germany this week to defend the BMW International Open title which proved the catalyst for his Major breakthrough at The 2016 Open Championship, while Sergio Garcia is back in European action for the first time since his Masters Tournament victory.
A typically strong field has gathered at Golfclub München Eichenried – known as the home of the BMW International Open having hosted the first 23 editions of the event – and joining two of the four current Major Champions is home favourite and two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer.
Stenson, who triumphed in Cologne this time last year to add to the title he won on this course back in 2006, is feeling good about his game despite missing the cut at last week’s U.S. Open and is hopeful his incredible form at this event will boost him to a third win on German soil.
Garcia, meanwhile, finished in a tie for 21st last week to continue a solid run of form since claiming the Green Jacket in April. With a strong string of results at the BMW International Open – four top tens in eight appearances – the current Race to Dubai leader is also feeling confident.
“It’s good to be back in Munich. It’s a lovely city. I’ve had success here in the past and obviously I’ve been a big part of this BMW International Open for many, many years, so it’s just good to be back.
“I guess I can talk a little bit about how important this win was for me last year. I came off, I’m not sure how long, probably almost a season and a half winless and I had a couple of close calls to win some tournaments.
“It didn’t happen, and then I managed to win up in Cologne last year and that really gave my confidence a boost, and we all know what happened a couple of weeks later.
“It was really key I think in the success I had at Troon and winning The Open Championship; that I won this tournament at the right time. It really pushed me on to that success. Yeah, it feels great to be back and thinking back on how important this win was last year for me.
“Last week at the U.S. Open was certainly the best I played while missing the cut for a long time in terms of tee-to-green but my putting was really off and I was quite a long way down in the putting stats last week.
“But my long game was pretty solid and that has been the part that hasn’t really been the way I wanted recently. The putting is the one thing that kept my game in good shape for the last couple years. It just didn’t work out last week.
“It’s a low-scoring golf course here. You’re going to make a lot of birdies. The winning score is normally close to 20 under. So you don’t want to go out and try and make as many pars as possible, which is normal for a U.S. Open course, even though it wasn’t that way last week. Hopefully we bring the birdie train with us this week.”
“It feels great to be back playing in Europe and I’m excited about the week. Obviously I’ve always been a big fan of Germany and the BMW International Open, so it’s nice to be back here.
“I need to try to get rid of this jet-lag by tomorrow morning hopefully. I’ve been feeling a little bit tired and a little bit flat the last two days. So hopefully we can work on that a little bit and have a good week.
“It’s great here. The golf course looks a little bit soft, the greens especially, but the fairways are nice. There are some new tees that we probably didn’t see two years ago. It feels like the course is playing a little bit longer than it used to but the weather has been great.
“So we’ll see if it stays like this and if it keeps drying out, the greens and stuff, it could be a nice test and hopefully we’ll have a nice, enjoyable week.”
“It’s one of those tournaments that obviously, back when I won it, it was a very emotional win for me. You had all the spectators and the German flags, and I was leading the tournament by five or six shots and it had to come down to a playoff. So there were great memories in the end.
“Winning in your home country, we all know how difficult it is. For whatever reason, it’s a bit more difficult to play here and even winning. It was a very nice performance back then because it was only my second European Tour win and I think my second season on Tour. So coming back to that golf course where you had a very special win is very nice.
“I think this week, the winning score will be fairly low because the rough is very low. But if you miss the fairway from the tee box, it does make a huge difference this week I think because the greens are fairly soft. Compared to the U.S. Open last week, the rough is pretty much nothing here.
“So I do prefer golf courses where par means something. I think on this golf course, you need to shoot at least 4-under par every round to have a chance on Sunday. I look forward to playing golf at the moment so I really like the way my golf is going. I feel like I have gained a little bit more consistency over the last few weeks.”