BMW International Open 2011: Happy birthday, DJ!


US Star Dustin Johnson will be celebrating his 27th birthday in Eichenried and is looking forward to another encounter with Martin Kaymer.

Munich. On the day of the traditional Pro-Am Tournament, the 23rd BMW International open was also the stage for a celebrity birthday party. When the American Ryder Cup player Dustin Johnson made his way to the first tee at midday, he was presented with a birthday cake by event organiser BMW. Naturally, it was a Black Forest Cherry Gateau reflecting the successful appearance of local contender Bernhard Langer at BMW Pro-Am Cooking on the previous day.

Johnson – last year’s winner of the prestigious BMW Championship in Cog Hill near Chicago – celebrated his 27th birthday in Eichenried. Understandably, he wants to give himself his biggest present on Sunday – by winning the tournament at the BMW International Open. This is the first appearance in Germany by the golfer listed as number eleven in the
World Rankings.

“I like travelling and I enjoy playing for fans everywhere,” commented Johnson outlining the rationale for his guest appearance in Munich. “I enjoy getting to know new countries.” The stars of the US PGA Tour are generally regarded as very loyal to their homeland. The BMW International Open is one of the few European tournaments that succeeds in attracting one or other star from across the Atlantic. Former US Ryder Cup Captain Paul Azinger (1990, 1992) and John Daly (2001) have already provided two American winners in the champions’ list for the tournament.

A conversation with Martin Kaymer was one of the main factors motivating Johnson to come to Eichenried. “We’re friends and we talk a lot when we get together,” he explained. The two golfers certainly have plenty to discuss. After all, their paths have crossed several times at key moments in their careers. “We have a common history together,” said Johnson.

The final of the US PGA Championship in 2010 is one of those unforgettable occasions. Johnson led the field before the last hole, when he teed off and the ball landed in the crowd of spectators. He played the ball from the trampled surface and it looked as though he had finished the hole with a bogie which would have put him in the running with the ultimainner Kaymer and Bubba Watson (USA). Regrettably, he had overlooked the fact that the tournament management had designated the area as a bunker and he had placed his club on the ground before taking his swing. This isn’t allowed in a bunker and Johnson was given two penalty strokes following discussions and video analysis. Rather than being among the front runners, he ended up sharing fifth place.

Nearly two months later at the Ryder Cup in Wales, Johnson and Kaymer played against each other in the final singles session. This time the American had the better of the clash and won the duel in masterful fashion with 6&4. However, he was unable to succeed in preventing an overall victory for Europe in this clash of the continents with the USA.

Johnson, who colleagues and friends refer to as “DJ”, has been a pro since 2007 and qualified for the US PGA Tour in his first season. So far he has won four tournaments there. He celebrated his greatest success in 2010 when he won the BMW Championship, the third of four major playoff tournaments on the PGA Tour.

 Johnson is regarded as one of the big hopes among American golfers who can halt the current series of victories obtained by European and South African players at major tournaments.