Welshman Dredge and Scotland’s Whitford shoot 64 to tie for the lead. Favourites Els, Casey and Kaymer still in contention.
Munich. The wave of surprise results which has been sweeping the football World Cup in South Africa reached Germany on Thursday as unheralded players stole the headlines on the opening day of the BMW International Open 2010. While the favourites for the tournament, such as Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Ernie Els (South Africa), found themselves back in the pack after 18 holes, Welshman Bradley Dredge and Peter Whitford of Scotland were busy showing the stars what was possible in perfect weather conditions on the championship course at Eichenried. The Britons both shot eight-under-par rounds of 64 to lead the way in the two-million-dollar European Tour event.
Whitford’s sudden rise to prominence was particularly surprising, as he had not – by his own admission – enjoyed a particular good day. “It sounds funny because I’ve carded an eight-under round,” said the number 203 in the world rankings. “But with the way I was feeling, I’d have been happy with two under.”
Things were also far from plain sailing for Dredge: “I played well as it goes, but I also hit a few poor shots,” admitted the word number 173. “Luckily, I managed to get away with them.” Dredge matched Whitford’s round of six birdies, one eagle and no bogeys.
A total of 12,500 spectators lined the course on what was a perfect day for low scoring. There was barely a breath of wind, the pin positions invited the players to attack and the greens were pleasantly receptive after the rain of recent weeks.
Among the other lesser known players to take advantage of the favourable conditions were Chapchai Nirat (Thailand), Phillip Price (Wales), Ariel Canete (Argentina) and Jeppe Huldahl (Denmark), who go into Friday’s second round in a four-way tie for third.
For the home contingent at Germany’s only professional tournament there was rather less to celebrate on day one. Marcel Siem was the strongest of the 15 German starters in the 156-strong field, shooting a 69. Siem’s round included a run of three bogeys in succession, but he recovered to post a strong finish with a pair of birdies in the final two holes. “Fortunately I at least managed to finish well,” he summed up.
Martin Kaymer, who in 2008 claimed what remains the only victory by a home player in the 22 years of the BMW International Open, began with a round of 71. The world number 11 managed four birdies and an eagle, but spoiled his round with five bogeys along the way. “I just made too many mistakes,” he lamented. “One under par is not a particularly great round on this course, especially with the number of birdie chances there were out there today.”
Elsewhere among the local favourites, Bernhard Langer got off to a solid start with a 70 and Alex Cejka carded a 71. Amateur Maximilian Kieffer from Düsseldorf and Stephan Gross Jr. from Heidelberg also finished under par, recording rounds of 70 and 71 respectively.
Of the host of star names in the strongest field in the tournament’s history, Sergio García endured a particularly grim day at the office. The Spaniard has left himself with a mountain to climb to make the mid-way cut after his first-round 77, while defending champion Nick Dougherty (England) also fell some way short of his performances of last year with a 74.
England’s world number eight Paul Casey, on the other hand, has put himself in an excellent position with a 68 on the opening day. And further down the leaderboard the world’s sixth-ranked player Ernie Els and Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie (Scotland) still have everything to play for, both having returned to the clubhouse with rounds of 70.