Overview and betting market
An intriguing US Open was won by Dustin Johnson in the aftermath of a 'will-he, won't-he?' situation, where a potential 1 shot penalty may have been assessed at the end of play. Dustin was thought to have caused his ball to move on the green at Oakmont by grounding his putter during a practise stroke. In the end he incurred a 1 stroke penalty but avoided a repeat of the Whistling Straits debacle, and the American recorded a 3 shot win to claim his first major title.
Attention now turns to this side of the pond and the European Tour members will tee it up in Germany for the BMW International. This event now switches from Golf Club Munich Eichenried to Gut Laerchenhof every other year but the two courses play similar. This week's venue is the latter and Martin Kaymer grew up just 30km from the track but doesn't feature this time around.
A handful of stars make the trip back across the water and 2nd favourite Danny Willet - 11.00 - was a winner here in 2012 and says he prefers the course to Eichenried as it usually plays a bit tougher. Willett topped the GIR stats at Gut Laerchenhof en route to another top 10 in 2014. Sergio Garcia leads the market at 9.00 and both he and and Andy Sullivan - 31.00 - were in contention over the weekend at Oakmont. Henrik Stenson - 11.00 - suffered a mystifying US Open capitulation but he was one of four to feature back in a 2014 playoff here, in which Fabrizio Zanotti - 67.00 - was ultimately the last man standing.
The course - Gut Laerchenhof
Playing 7,229 yards to a par 72, Gut Laerchenhof is a largely exposed (treelined in places) course with water featuring on 50% of the holes. Fairways are tight in the landing areas and they're lined by consistent and penal rough with wispy fescues and bush, if not water, awaiting the overly errant. Fairways and greens are usually in immaculate condition and in 2014 the surfaces played fast and firm, running at 12' on the stimp. Stats from that renewal show total driving as a prominent theme, and scores must be made from the fairways. Laerchenhof is a Jack Nicklaus design and Jack doesn't like to see a good shot punished so scoring is generally low; -17 under was needed to break the top 10 in 2014.
Top BMW International Open tips
Thongchai Jaidee - 51.00 or 11.00 - was 5th here in 2014, closing with rounds of 68 - 68 - 65. The Thai usually hits form around this part of the season and has a good record generally in Germany. In the 2012 renewal, Thongchai was 8th here and the secret to his success is his putting prowess on the pristine greens. He's a solid if not superb ball striker but owns a putts per round clip averaging circa 28.5 over the last 2 years. We played at Eichenried for last year's BMW International Open renewal but Jaidee seems to excel over the 2 courses sitting 3rd after 54 holes there in 2015.
Andrew Johnston - 61.00 or 13.00 - seems to be getting no love from the golf betting world and I think it's a risky business. In my opinion there's another win around the corner for "Beef", and Gut Laerchenhof looks to me to be a course that fits for the big man. Johnston has been free rolling and loving life since his brilliant win in the ball strikers paradise that is Valderrama. He has since recorded a T7 at Wentworth and a T12 at the Nordea Masters and flies here off the back of a very respectable US Open (54). Beef's tee to green stats are superb, and over 65% of fairways hit at nearly a 295 yards average puts him near the top of the total driving stats - the premium at Gut Laerchenhof. He owns a GIR clip of 73.3% this season.
I thought Scott Hend was on a downward form spiral but a trip back to his adopted Asian homeland has seen the Aussie get back to winning ways with a birdie blitz at the Queens Cup. At 46.00 or 10.00 I'm prepared to give him another look following his final round disaster at Wentworth, having led after 54 holes. It may not be the typical course we look at for the big hitter but Hend has the ability to overpower most courses and makes his scores on the par 5s. He proved he can win on any track when taking down the Hong Kong Open at the short and tight Hong Kong GC in Fanling.