BMW International Open
BMW International Open
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Event Features
Monty says a top 10 James must play
Seve ends speculation over Ryder Cup standby role

Coltart fury over missing clubs

Faldo still hopes for Ryder Cup call up
Mark James gives captaincy hint

Ryder cup contenders in final shoot out

Ryder Cup scramble reaches climax
Karlsson's Ryder Cup fate in his own hands
Preview of the BMW International Open

Preview of the BMW International Open

Europe's Ryder Cup hopefuls are drinking in the last chance saloon this week as they get their final opportunity to win a place on the plane to Brookline.

The scrap for points has lasted 37 tournaments in all and it reaches its conclusion at the BMW International Open in Germany

The first nine players on the European standings are virtual locks, leaving 10th-placed Robert Karlsson in the hot seat.

A win for Karlsson is the simplest solution to the puzzle but with 1983 points available to the winner this week, most of the players in the top 30 in the current standings still have a theoretical chance of qualifying. More realistically, the top 20 are the genuine contenders.

Those still in the frame are Andrew Coltart, who was replaced in the top ten by Sergio Garcia after the USPGA, Jesper Parnevik, Padraig Harrington, Bernhard Langer, Mark James, Alex Cejka, Sven Struver, Costantino Rocca, Gary Orr, David Howell, David Carter, John Bickerton, Dean Robertson, Patrik Sjoland, Per-Ulrik Johansson and Paul McGinley.

Parnevik will not be playing in the event as he is almost certain to be given one of the two wildcard places but the others all take their chance this week.

The Golfclub Munchen course is one of the flattest on the European Tour and has been used as the host course for the last two years and also between 1989 and 1993. It's a venue that tends to throw up course specialists.


Colin Montgomerie: Despite yet another creditable Major (tied sixth), Monty's parting shot at the USPGA was another unfortunate one as, with steam coming out of his ears, he angrily pointed his putter at a heckler after holing out at the 18th. The disappointment of another Majorless year could catch up with him here and you wouldn't want to take the short odds on offer even though he is capable of making mincemeat out of the rest of the field. Amazingly he shot 72-75 to miss the cut here last year but he does have some fine course form to his name with a third place in 1997 and a tied sixth in 1992.

Bernhard Langer: This is Langer's last chance to get into the Ryder Cup team and it couldn't have been set up better for him – a tournament in his native Germany. Langer has won no less than nine times on home soil and he's come close to adding to those victories at this venue. He was tied second in 1992, tied third in 1993 and tied fourth last year. Even though he has a good chance of being picked as a wildcard he can't count on it so he needs a huge week here.

Retief Goosen: Goosen, as a non-European, may feel a bit out of it this week with so much focus on the Ryder Cup. In truth his form looks to have cooled off anyway. After a sparkling season up to his tenth place at the British Open in which he had won in France and posted eight top tens the South African has finished 24th and 59th on his last European Tour starts. And added to that is a missed cut in the USPGA in Medinah last week. With no course form to recommend him either his chances don't leap off the page.

Robert Karlsson: Almost unnoticed the Swede has slipped into the top ten in the Ryder Cup standings and it's all in his hands now as he occupies the final automatic slot. Karlsson made his move with successive finishes of fourth in the European Open and fifth in the Scandinavian Masters so he looks to be peaking at the perfect time. Intriguingly he also won this tournament two years ago so after a decent showing in the USPGA (41st) he looks to have a strong chance.

Thomas Bjorn: Even a victory this week won't be good enough for Bjorn to qualify automatically for the Ryder Cup and it's unlikely that he would be given a wildcard. If he feels sorry for himself he might flop badly this week but on the other hand he might play with a new freedom knowing that his chance has now gone. On past form Bjorn certainly has a chance of shining as he's finished in the top six here for the last two years so with the pressure off he could well thrive.

Costantino Rocca: The Italian has left it late but a victory in the West of Ireland Classic last week and a fourth place in the European Open a fortnight earlier has left him in a position to sneak in through the back door. Rocca, who represented Europe in 1993, 95 and 97, is desperate to play at Brookline next month and if he reminds himself of that memorable singles victory over Tiger Woods last time then he could pull it off with a victory here. His course form here isn't bad either with a top ten in 1992, tied 26th in 1997 and tied 18th last year.

Paul Lawrie: The new Open champion acquitted himself more than creditably last week when finishing 34th in the USPGA in his first ever competitive tournament on American soil. He even tied for the lead early in round one so he looks as though he'll be able to handle himself well in the Ryder Cup. Although his confidence is sky-high it's doubtful that he'll get right into contention here and the 12th place he achieved in 1997 might be a more likely upper limit this week.

Padraig Harrington: Harrington's second place in Ireland last week elevated him to 11th in the Ryder Cup standings although he will start in 12th here after Sergio Garcia's heroics in the USPGA. The Irishman also made the top 25 in his previous two European Tour starts and was tied 29th in the Open before that so he's coming right into form at the perfect time. He will also take encouragement from a fine ninth place at this course two years ago. Has good credentials.

Andrew Coltart: Coltart dropped out of the top ten after Sergio Garcia's thrilling exploits at Medinah and the enigmatic Scot faces a mighty struggle to get back in. Although he made the cut in the USPGA a third round 80 left him way down the field (65th) and despite a run of three top 20s including a tied 18th in the Open he still isn't doing quite enough. A tied 25th here in 1993 is the best course form you'll find so it looks like he'll be the unlucky man to occupy that dreaded 11th spot.


A victory for Ian Woosnam this week wouldn't get him into the side automatically but could give Mark James a real headache when he comes to dish out his wildcards. Although he's got so much on his mind James may find the golf course the most relaxing place to be and can't be ruled out after his superb closing 67 in the USPGA. Nick Faldo also knows a huge week could clinch his wildcard while all the others who can still theoretically qualify have to be considered. They are Alex Cejka, Sven Struver, Gary Orr, David Howell, David Carter, John Bickerton, Dean Robertson, Patrik Sjoland, Per-Ulrik Johansson and Paul McGinley. All have the incentive but none can really boast any decent current or course form.


The Ryder Cup dominates our thinking this week although it's not quite a case of just picking players who need to win to get into the top ten automatic qualifying slots.

That said our first pick is a player who needs to do just that – Italian Costantino Rocca.

Having tasted Ryder Cup glory before – and what could be more special than a singles victory over Tiger Woods – Rocca would simply love a piece of the action again.

And after his win in the admittedly low-key West of Ireland Classic last week his game looks sharp enough to gain the victory that would put him in.

Rocca is completely focused on the task in hand and said after his win in Ireland: “Now there is only one thing I need and that is another win in Munich. Not second place.”

A top 20 last year shows that Rocca can handle the course and he looks very backable at a tasty 33-1.

There's no prizes for tipping Bernhard Langer on home soil but there's more reason to do it than the usual man-in-the-pub “back Langer in Germany” advice.

Beyond the obvious fact that Langer is a formidable customer on home soil is the little matter of his qualification for the Ryder Cup.

The German needs to finish in the top three to have a chance of qualifying automatically and easing Mark James' wildcard headache.

Given such circumstances you'd expect Langer to be around 10-1 but because of his mixed recent form 16s is available.

As Langer has pulled out something special when needed most in the past he looks well worth a bet at that price.

The man sat right on the bubble in 10th place, Robert Karlsson, is our third pick.

Although it may be harder to defend his position than attack it, Karlsson takes our interest because he is a previous winner at the course.

That came two years ago when Karlsson shot 67-67-64-66 to get into a play-off where he beat Carl Watts on the third extra hole.

Although he made a meal of his defence last year his excellent recent form (two top fives and a good showing in the USPGA) suggests that he could flourish again this time.

The Swede is 33-1 with Stan James to make the frame again and that's good each-way value. For those of you with a Chandler account take their 33-1 each-way that pays out at a quarter of the odds for the first five.

Next, we'll, somewhat perversely, plump for Ryder Cup skipper Mark James.

Some may doubt the wisdom of this as Ryder Cup skipper James is surely preoccupied with next month's showdown with the Americans.

But, ironically, the only place where he won't be having questions thrown at him is on the golf course itself.

As a precedent, take a look at Tom Kite's performance in the 1997 USPGA.

That was the last qualifying tournament for the American team and US skipper Kite had the always traumatic task of trying to finalise his two wildcards.

But despite all that going on in his head, Kite got on with his game and finished alone in fifth place.

James arrives in Munich having shot a superb closing 67 in the final round of the USPGA at Medinah – the low score of the day.

And he also has happy memories of this course having finished tied second here in 1992.

Victory, of course, would put James into the top ten and he would then have to decide whether he would go to the Ryder Cup as a player and relinquish the captaincy.

That would be a fascinating scenario but given some of the amazing occurrences we've seen in golf in 1999 then who would rule it out?

James is an overpriced 66-1 to cause such chaos which is more than enough to get us interested. Again take Chandler or Sunderlands quarter of the odds for the top five.

With our final pick our thinking approaches the tournament from another point of view.

If the Ryder Cup issue puts too much pressure on those involved then it may be left to someone out of the picture to come through.

On course form, which has proven a key ingredient here down the years, the man who could take advantage is Thomas Bjorn.

Bjorn has finished tied sixth and fifth in the last two runnings here and although his current form is patchy he made the cut in the USPGA and was fourth in the Murphy's Irish Open last month.

Bjorn will be mightily disappointed not to have made the Ryder Cup but he's proved before that he can handle disappointment positively.

Last year he was the only player in Europe's triumphant Ryder Cup team at Valderrama not to get an invite to the Masters and in his first tournament after Augusta he showed that he should never have been left out by winning the Spanish Open.