Big week in Munich
It’s the final week for Ryder Cup qualification, ensuring a really good field for the BMW International Open. All of Europe’s top players are in Germany for the event with PGA Tour regulars Luke Donald and Alex Cejka also over to try and enhance their claims of getting a wild card.
Also, John Daly is here, adding his unique talents to the mix. It should be a cracking tournament and everybody on the range has been really up for it during the practice days.
Third Cup match beckons
Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about making one last effort to get in Bernhard Langer’s European team – I’ve already qualified. For the first time, there have been two different qualification routes; one via the traditional European points list and the other way, via a World points list. Five players will make it through from both lists and I’m currently occupying top spot on the World list.
I’m looking forward, then, to being part of Bernhard’s team for Oakland Hills next month. It will be my third Ryder Cup, an event you always want to be part of, although the week itself is highly pressurised for those involved.
I wasn’t at my best last week in the NEC Invitational, but this week’s tournament is one I’ve always enjoyed and done well in, in the past. Staged at Golf Club Munchen for all the years I’ve been a tour pro, it’s proved a relatively happy hunting ground for me – although I’ve yet to win there.
John Daly pipped me by a shot in the 2001 renewal of the tournament, while two years earlier I was runner-up to Colin Montgomerie. I also managed a third in what was my rookie season, 1996.
A look back through the record book shows I’ve been in the top-20 on the three other occasions I’ve played the tournament, which gives me a lift before I even tee off.
Having fared decently enough at Golf Club Munchen on all of my six previous visits, it’s fair to say the course is one I feel pretty comfortable on. I don’t know if it’s fair to say it sets up well for me, but it’s a track where players – including myself – feel confident that they can make birdies. If you cast your eye back at the previous winning scores, you can see the guys have made a habit of going pretty low there. When I was second to Daly, I finished 26-under for the four rounds – and it still wasn’t good enough to win! Overall, it’s a flat course and you can make a lot of putts on the relatively straightforward greens if your stroke is solid. The par-5s are all in reach in two for the majority of the field as long as you find the fairway with your drive. They’ve toughened the course up a little since my last visit here in 2002, but I still expect the scoring to be good. Fingers crossed, I get a good start and put myself in the picture. I start out at 1.05 from the first tee along with Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey.
Three over par after two rounds meant a missed cut and a visit to my coach earlier than expected the following day. Basically I didn't hole the putts that mattered for birdies (the 10 to 15 footers) that meant my back was against the wall. When I then pushed for the birdies, mistakes were made and bogies resulted.
Despite an eagle 3 at the last hole, an even par first round of 72 meant that I finished the day in 46th position. The key moment was when I lost a ball on the 9th hole which resulted in a double bogey 7 and meant that I had lost ground on the field during a low scoring day.
Friday's second round was no better and I posted a three over par 75, to miss the cut by 3 shots.
I then flew to Glasgow on the Saturday morning and spent three days with my coach, Bob Torrance. However I did watch some of the weekend golf on the TV and was delighted for Paul McGinley to make the Ryder Cup team. Ian Poulter also put in a terrific final nine performance to make it and both players will assets, as will the Captain's two picks, Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald.
However, I did feel sorry for Freddie Jacobsen who could have made the team with a little more luck an any of the final 5 greens. Whilst he is 26th in the World rankings it shows that the team contains form players. It is a pity we cannot take 13 players to Detroit.
My next event is the German Masters next week and I will get back to you before then with a preview.