As many as 10 South Africans will tee off on Thursday looking to bag the nation another European Tour win as a strong field heads to Golfclub Munchen Eichenried for the BMW International Open.
Two names stand out as the biggest threat to a Saffa victory – defending champion Matt Wallace and home favourite Martin Kaymer.
Wallace secured his third title in just his 39th European Tour appearance – and the second of three wins in 2018 – with his victory in Pulheim last season. His triumph at Made in Denmark a few months later took his tally to four titles in just two seasons, and the 29-year-old Englishman shows no sign of taking his foot off the gas.
With two runner-up spots on the European Tour already this season, a tied third finish at the US PGA Championship in May for his best placing in a Major, and a T12 finish at the US Open last week – which took him to the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings – Wallace looks well placed to become the first player to successfully defend the BMW International Open title.
Two-time Major champion Kaymer achieved his best European Tour result for three years at this event last season – finishing in a tie for second place behind Wallace – and home hopes will rest on the former World No 1’s shoulders this week as he bids for his second BMW International Open title.
The four-time Ryder Cup player has been searching for his first victory since the 2014 US Open after battles with injury and loss of form in recent years. His game seems to be trending in the right direction, as he arrives on home soil with top-10 finishes on both sides of the Atlantic under his belt this season.
Wallace begins at the 10th hole at 8:40am alongside Kaymer and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen, who was part of the victorious 2018 Ryder Cup team, for a formidable three-ball. Sergio Garcia is another Major Championship winner and the 2017 Masters Champion starts ten minutes earlier on the back nine, beginning his first two rounds with South African Brandon Stone and England’s Andy Sullivan.
Erik van Rooyen will start as the leading South African contender after another Major cut made. The search for his first European Tour win continues as he cements his place in the Race to Dubai where Van Rooyen only has four players in this field better off at this point.
Thomas Bjorn, who guided Team Europe to victory at Le Golf National last year, has American Kurt Kitayama and Van Rooyen for company in the first two rounds, beginning at 1pm.
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