Martin Kaymer returns to action after his U.S. Open triumph this weekend in front of a home crowd for the 2014 BMW International Open at Gut Larchenhof in Cologne.
Kaymer and Sweden's Henrik Stenson head the field as favourites, while Sergio Garcia makes his return to the European circuit for what should be a fascinating contest in Germany.
Read on for a full daily recap of the action.
Round 4 Recap
Fabrizio Zanotti won the BMW International Open in Germany after a thrilling conclusion in which the Paraguayan won a four-way play-off after five extra holes.
The 31-year-old edged out Henrik Stenson, Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain and Gregory Havret to become the first Paraguayan to win a title on the European tour. All four had completed their 18 holes at 19-under.
Zanotti enjoyed an excellent day on the green after carding his second consecutive 65 to send him into the four-way play-off alongside world no.2 Stenson.
In the end it would come down to the Swede and Zanotti as they went toe to toe on the 17th. But Stenson blinked first and sent his tee shot into the water. Zanotti played it safe and got to the green in two with Stenson duly conceding.
Golf.com reported a delighted Zanotti's comments following the historic win:
This is huge. I think everybody in Paraguay is going to be so happy. Everybody in Paraguay was awaiting this moment, like me.
I've been working a lot for this and thank God the moment came. I've been working on my game and made some big changes and now I can see the result.
I was just trying to enjoy the moment, shot by shot. Then when I got to the playoff, it was very up and down for the first one. Then in the second I got a good birdie after Henrik. Then I started thinking, maybe today is my day.
Here's the final leaderboard from Cologne.
|BMW International Open Final Leaderboard|
Round 3 Recap
Pablo Larrazabal fired himself top of the leaderboard on Day 3 of the BMW International Open in Cologne with a five-under-par 67 to reach 17 under.
Coming into Saturday’s play fresh off a 63 on Friday, Larrazabal continued from where he left off with another stunning performance.
Going out in one under par, the Spaniard produced four birdies in his last six holes to reach his 17 under total, three shots clear of the chasing pack, as we see below:
|BMW International Open Day 3 Leaderboard|
|Position||Player||To Par||Saturday's Round|
|T2||Carlos Del Moral||-14||66|
Larrazabal started Saturday in a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard with Emiliano Grillo, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Danny Willett on 12 under, but left the trio in his wake in style.
Though he took a while to get settled, the 31-year-old’s back nine summed up just how lethal he’s been at the Golf Club Gut Larchenhof all week.
Birdies on 13, 14, 15, and 17 saw Larrazabal home in just 32 shots, but even more impressive is the fact that he hasn’t made a single bogey yet.
Looking in imperious form, the Spaniard is well on for his fourth European Tour win on Sunday and second victory at the BMW International Open.
Grillo was Larrazabal’s closest competitor for the duration and was just one shot back of the Spanish star on 16 under par on the 18th tee, but a double bogey saw his challenge slip away.
However, the round of the day belonged to Australian Richard Green, who shot a remarkable 10-under-par 62 to move up 51 places on the leaderboard into a tie for second.
Eight birdies and an eagle on Saturday saw Green reach the 14 under total, with his eight-under-par back nine most impressive of all and just one shot away from a European Tour record:
Paul Casey also enjoyed himself on Day 3, with his round just one shot worse than that of Green.
Nine birdies and no bogies put the Englishman into the top 10, and he said after his round that the golf course was there for the taking—per European Tour:
I’m glad I got off early. The golf course is absolutely perfect. The rain we had yesterday has soft end it up. You could find straighter flags, you could be aggressive but the greens have remained in wonderful shape so it really is set up for scoring out there so that's what I did.
Casey is now just four shots behind Larrazabal heading into Sunday’s play, but he, and the rest of the top 10, will have a hard time catching the Spaniard.
Though the course will be set up a lot tougher for the final day, Larrazabal seems to have his ball on a string at the moment, and another low round could beckon.
However, as Green showed on Saturday, any player can come out of nowhere to reach the top, and Larrazabal will have to be looking over his shoulder at the star-studded chasing pack behind him on Sunday.
Round 2 Recap
Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Danny Willett continued their stunning form in Cologne on Friday to maintain their joint lead at the top of the BMW International Open leaderboard.
Both heading into the second round at eight under par in share of the lead, Cabrera-Bello and Willett carded respective rounds of 68 to reach 12 under at the halfway stage.
Joining them at the top on 12 under par are Pablo Larrazabal and Emiliano Grillo, who put together a pair of remarkable rounds at the Golf Club Gut Larchenhof, as we see below:
|BMW International Open Day 2 Leaderboard|
|Position||Player||To Par||Friday's Round|
|T5||Miguel Angel Jimenez||-10||67|
Friday was a day whereby the only loser was the golf course itself, with more players under par than not on the second day’s play.
It wasn’t without a bit of drama, though, as leader Cabrera-Bello got himself in a spot of bother on the par-five seventh, his 16th hole of the day.
Starting on the back nine, the Spaniard enjoyed a flawless three-under 33 to start his round in style. Two birdies followed on the first and third, but the seventh saw his luck run out.
Two big hits on the 577-yard par five put Cabrera-Bello within chipping distance in green-side rough, but as he attempted to play the ball towards the flag, he inadvertently hit his ball twice.
Though he got up and down from there to secure his bogey, it took him out of the outright lead position and saw his first blemish of the tournament go on his card.
Co-leader Willett, meanwhile, is still yet to make a bogey, and looked in imperious form on Friday with fabulous tee-to-green play.
Had his putter been a little hotter, the Englishman would have put himself into a convincing lead, though he’s in a good position to charge this weekend.
It was Larrazabal that put together the round of the day, though, firing his way to a nine-under-par 63 to put himself right into contention for the title.
The Spaniard is the kind of golfer who, when he’s having an on day, he’s really on—and so it proved on Friday.
Four birdies on his front nine followed by five on the back without any slip ups put the 31-year-old in share of the lead and in a confident mood heading into the weekend.
Speaking after his round, Larrazabal, who won this tournament back in 2011 in Munich, said that he wants to continue his good form over Saturday and Sunday’s play—as Yahoo! Sports reported:
There is a no more trouble on this course than where I won in Munich. But with all the guys out there shooting low you just have to keep going and make as many birdies as you can. So it's all about continuing to play well and holing the birdie putts. I also can't think about winning this event again and my focus is that there is 36 holes to play and 36 birdies to be made.
However, one man that won’t be joining Larrazabal in action over the weekend is home favourite Martin Kaymer, whose one-over-par 73 saw him miss the cut by four shots.
Maybe the exhaustion finally got the U.S. Open champion after his exploits at Pinehurst, but he was left with a rather unfortunate statistic after his round—per Golf Channel’s Justin Ray:
Though Kaymer won’t be playing his part, the star-studded race at the top of the leaderboard is looking very exciting heading into the weekend.
Willett is the golfer in form, though, and if the Sheffield-born star keeps his tidy golf going then he could run away with the title in Cologne.
Pins will be moved and rough will be left to grow overnight, but expect more low scores as the tournament approaches its climax.
Round 1 Recap
Englishman and 2012 champion Danny Willett and Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello lead the BMW International Open in Cologne after the first day having both posted scores of eight-under-par 64 while playing together.
A whole handful of players sit two shots back from the leaders after their opening rounds, including the likes of Anders Hansen, Alvaro Quiros and Graeme Storm.
The players took advantage of low-scoring conditions with birdies being taken across the field. Here is the leaderboard after Round 1 of the competition:
|2014 BMW International Open Day 1 Leaderboard|
Willett looked very impressive on the course he won on two years ago, and proved his form after coming in third in the Irish Open last week.
The 26-year played a flawless round with no bogeys and eight birdies, five of which came on the back nine including one on the last to join his playing partner at the top of the leaderboard.
Similarly, Cabrera-Bello's round included no bogeys and eight birdies, a very consistent four one-under scores in each nine.
The 30-year-old was very happy with his consistency from the round, per the European Tour:
It was a really good way to start. I had no dropped shots today, four birdies on the front nine, four birdies on the back nine. What I enjoyed most about the round was that I played it pretty steady, I didn't have a really high peak or any lows, I was just playing steady golf the entire four-and-a-half hours that we've been out there.
Teeing off just after midday in Germany, the pair were joined by England's Ross Fisher, who carded a solid round of two-under 70.
Sitting back in tied for third place after 66s, Storm and Hansen were also bogey-less, both slotting six birdies to get themselves well into contention after the first day of play.
Meanwhile, Frenchman Gary Stal scored an eagle on the par-four ninth on his way to a 66 and is joined by fellow eagle-maker Andy Sullivan, who made eagle on the par-five 13th.
Perennial fan-favourite Miguel Angel Jimenez—who won the Open de Espana at the end of last month—shot a five-under 67 to end the first day in touching distance of the top men.
Kaymer did not make the best return in front of his home fans, carding a one-under-par round of 71, including five birdies but a disappointing double-bogey on the par-three 16th.
France's Victor Dubuisson provided potentially the shot of the day when he holed out from a green-side bunker on the ninth hole, but the exciting young star finished with a round of 71, seven strokes off the lead.
It's closely packed toward the top of the leaderboard and Cabrera-Bello and Willett could see their lead cut very quickly unless they start Round 2 in storming fashion.
No single player has streaked out in front and there will likely be a number of players in contention going into the weekend. There seem to be plenty of birdies available on the course, so the eventual winner is likely going to have to go consistently low to claim the title.