Germany's only European Tour stop tees off tomorrow
Golfclub Eichenried, Munich, June 23 - What a difference a year makes.
Last June, Martin Kaymer was considered one of the young talents in golf, part of a group of Europeans that could take over for an absentee Tiger Woods.
As the BMW International Open tees off today, Kaymer has won a major championship, helped Europe win the Ryder Cup, and claimed the top spot as the world's #1 golfer.
Despite not holding onto the ranking and not playing well in the year's first two majors, he comes in as top ranked golfer at this tournament, currently ranked #3.
"My attitude has clearly changed," said Kaymer about the transition from player with potential to the world's top player. "Since the victory at the PGA Championship, I know I can win every tournament. My belief and self-confidence has grown."
Since this is the only tournament in Kaymer's home country, it was important for him attend. BMW arranged for a private jet for him and other top golfers to fly directly from last weekend's U.S. Open in Washington D.C. so that they can have enough time to recover from the time difference and jet lag.
(Editor's note: Salman Mitha will be tweeting from the BMW International Tournament Friday and Saturday. Join him @sal_TMT_sports )
One would think that the ocean hopping would have an effect on the quality of golf, but if one looks at the top 10, seven are from Europe.
"I get asked all the time, what could be the reason for the recent success of European players," shrugged Kaymer. "The only thing I can think of, is that we have to play on different courses against different competition on different continents. The U.S. players are good, but they stay in the States. I think the challenges we face make us better prepared to play well in tournaments."
Kaymer will tee off at 8:10 in the first round Thursday and 13:10 on Friday. He is grouped with Dustin Johnson, the American is #11 in the world, and defending champion David Horsey from England. Other stars in the field include Paul Casey who sits at #12, Italians Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero (both in the top 30), and former champions Nick Dougherty (2009) and Henrik Stenson (2006). And of course, legendary favorites Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie will also participate.
"This is a very important tournament for me," stated Kaymer, who won here in 2008 in a playoff. "To win here again would be a dream and I hope I can give the fans what they want, that I play in the final flight on Sunday."
Entrance to the first two days of the tournament are free to the public. And it will be the last chance for Munich golf fans to enjoy professional golf locally for the next two years. The tournament will move to the Cologne area starting next year and will alternate between the two cities starting in 2013.