Prize Money: €2,000,000
Winner’s Share: €333,330
Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof plays host to this week’s German stop off on the European Tour. The event moves back to Cologne having also hosted in 2012, where England’s Danny Willett took the title. It was a track that was also used for the Mercedes-Benz Championship last held in 2009. The most recent winners of that were Kingston, Karlsson and Søren Hansen.
It will be four days dominated by the man of the moment Martin Kaymer, media-wise anyway. But nobody can discount him from winning his home title. Aside from the US Open Champ, Garcia, Stenson, F.Molinari, Dubuisson and a refreshed Paul Casey are just some of the big names who want a piece of this German trophy.
The course has iron-player written all over it. To name a few, Jaidee, Castano, Stenson, Fisher and Jimenez have all done well here and there is no denying how efficient they are with the irons. And with iron-play comes GIR. Danny Willett ranked 5th in that stat when he won 2 years ago and the majority of the contenders were at least in the top 25 for GIR. At 7,300 yards it’s a track where the bombers and shorter hitters can both thrive as long as you’re finding the greens and holing a few!
We will be in Paris next week for all 4 days of the French Open, so please do follow us on that journey!
Francesco Molinari (33/1 Ladbrokes)
The Italian has been knocking on the door of the winner’s enclosure for some time now. Four top 10’s in his last 9 appearances is not bad but without that trophy in the cabinet it will still be deemed as another poor year! And with the Ryder Cup just around the corner, he will need to do something to assert himself on Paul McGinley’s radar.
As well all know his greatest facet is the ability to do almost anything with his set of irons. He’s taken 3 titles on the European Tour in his career all on tracks where GIR is absolutely vital and this week is no different. His current form speaks for itself with those top 10’s but he also boasts a 2nd and 12th at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
With all eyes on Kaymer, Stenson and Garcia, expect this guy to contend heavily come the weekend.
Pablo Larrazabal (80/1 Stan James)
In our eyes, one of the greatest iron players ever to have graced the game. All exaggeration aside, ‘young Seve’ is a perfect fit for the German track.
One thing that has let him down in recent weeks is his accuracy off the tee but it seems this course is one where focus is not as heavy off the tee as it has been over the past few months. He comes to Cologne off the back of a solid showing at Fota Island with the putter being the only club not to get going. He ranked 13th in accuracy and averaged 297 yards off the tee which is ominous for the Spaniard. When he drives well, he more than often contends.
With a best of 29th around this particular course, the Spaniard is due another top 5 at the very least.
Chris Wood (60/1 Stan James)
The Englishman is someone who has been very impressive for the past few weeks. He comes to a course where he finished 3rd in 2012 and this could all culminate in another big week.
He is someone who is again known for his prowess with the middle clubs and was solid across the board in Ireland last week, finishing 8th and ranking 37th in GIR. Back in 2012 on this track he ranked 17th in GIR. His putting last week needs to be noted as well with him finishing 6th in putts per GIR.
With Kaymer, Stenson and Garcia taking the brunt of this week’s betting market, there is some definite value to be had here.
Fabrizio Zanotti (100/1 Stan James)
The Paraguayan is someone who we didn’t know a lot about coming into this season but he really has put himself firmly on our radar in recent weeks. And when looking into this tournament it was refreshing to see that he finished 11th here in 2012.
As many of the South American exports are, he is an iron-specialist. 2nd GIR last week in Ireland pretty much confirms this. Without ever really contending, last week he bagged another top 15 finish to go with his 5th in Austria and 3rd in Portugal. He is a man in form who has a liking for this track. Outstanding value in our eyes.
Note: Marcel Siem was initially picked but after seeing his odds and the fact his wife is about to give birth to his child, we opted against putting any money on him!
Alex Cejka (175/1 Stan James) David Lynn (150/1 Various) Graeme Storm (400/1 Stan James)
Cejka is a local favourite and is adored by one half of DownThe18th. Had a great spell of golf over in America earlier this year which included a win on the Web.com Tour followed by a runner-up spot. Not been great of late but did take medallist honours whilst qualifying for the US Open. Englishman Lynn has gone completely off the radar as of late but finished 11th here in 2012. If his game is in good working order, has the ability with the irons to do well here. Graeme Storm is a wild pick but with four solid rounds last week finishing 6th GIR, tied 2nd driving distance and 19th accuracy, he could push on from that in Germany.