Martin Kaymer is relishing the challenge of taking on the Beckenbauer Course at Golf Resort Bad Griesbach for the first time when he tees it up for the opening round of the Porsche European Open, after heavy flooding forced the cancellation of the practice round as well as the Pro-Am.
It will be a unique scenario for many of the players in Germany this week, including the two-time Major champion and home favourite Kaymer, to be teeing it up on the first day’s play having never struck a single shot in anger on the Bernhard Langer-designed lay-out.
Players were given permission to walk the course and test some greens on the eve of the event but it is a task the players are relishing, with defending champion Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand confident that he can carry the momentum from last year’s victory and rekindle his form.
Padraig Harrington, meanwhile, was quick to point out that the last event which he started without having played the course in the lead-up was The 2008 Open at Royal Birkdale, where he successfully defended the Claret Jug.
The Irishman is joined in the field by fellow two-time Open Champion Ernie Els of South Africa, who plays his first regular European Tour event since February, while Belgium’s Thomas Pieters joins Kaymer in making this event his last before heading to Hazeltine for next week’s Ryder Cup.
Martin Kaymer said, “Last year I couldn’t play this one, we have only two tournaments in Germany unfortunately so last year I played in Munich and this year I thought, because I had heard a lot of good things about the Porsche European Open, why not go there this year.
“Obviously I didn’t know I was going to be in The Ryder Cup at that stage, but I talked to Bernhard Langer about this event and I heard so many positive comments so I thought ‘let’s give it a go’.
“I’m the kind of guy who likes to play a few in a row and you shouldn’t talk too much about The Ryder Cup this week, because I’m here to play this event as well as I can. But in the past it was always the case that I did well when I played three or four in a row.
“This week is going to be a little bit busier for me than normal, obviously being in my home country, but even if I did know back then that I was in The Ryder Cup, I would have done the same thing.
“It will be interesting having not played the course. I think the last time that has happened for me was as an amateur. Usually we can always play on Tuesday or at least play the Pro-Am. It hasn’t really happened in my career so I don’t know the golf course and I have to go out later and walk it with Craig, then at least we’ve seen it once before we tee off and we just go.”
Thongchai Jaidee said, “It’s nice to be back here again. I love to be here, this is one of my favourite tournaments. Obviously I won last year and I remember it well.
“This year, the golf course is so wet. There’s going to be no one on the course until the first day and I think it will be a completely different course – it is playing longer. I know the greenkeepers have done a lot of work on it. It was under water a few days ago.
“I’ve missed the cut in the last two weeks. Last week the weather made it difficult with the different tee times and we spent a lot of time up at the course. On Friday it took about 11 hours and we still hadn’t finished so we played into Saturday.
“I wasn’t driving well last week and that’s why I couldn’t make the score. I think this week it will be different because I have been practicing a lot with my driver and with my irons. I think I will be better this week. We’ve been working a lot on it and testing some Titleist clubs, working on my feeling coming back and hopefully it will work this week.”
3-time Major winner Padraig Harrington said, “I’ve played well in Germany over the years. I’ve won the old TPC here, I’ve won the Linde German Masters, I came close in the BMW and I came close in the old German Open. It would be nice to try and add the Porsche European Open.
“It’s a big title on the Tour – it’s a quality event. When you look around, everything about it, the facilities are good, everything is top class. So it is a big event to go out and win.
“Porsche have done a very good job with the sponsorship here. It’s right at the top of the scale of events to play.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there. The last time I didn’t play a practice round for a tournament was The Open in 2008. That worked out well for me so hopefully something similar will happen this week.”
Ernie Els is also here, and he said, “I got a late invite and I thought ‘what the hell’. I’ve been off for about a month, and it’s one way of getting to drive a nice Porsche – come here, play the tournament and drive some nice cars!
“I haven’t played too many European Tour events this year so I’m here to catch up a little on that. I want to get some tournaments under my belt, play in Europe where I’m a lifetime Member, see some of my mates and play some good golf. I haven’t played the European Open since 1994 so it’s nice to be back.
“The European Open is such a huge event historically. I remember watching it at Walton Heath on television for many years and I think when I last played it was in England at East Sussex National. It’s taken quite a few years to come back and what an event – to have a nice sponsor like Porsche and getting it back on the schedule is huge.”
First-time Ryder Cupper Thomas Pieters said, “I’m super excited about this week but also about next week, of course. It sounds bad, retiring (from the KLM Open) with a bee sting but my thumb was the size of a cucumber and I got really really ill on Tuesday evening, all day Wednesday, all day Thursday and then on Friday evening I got a little bit better.
“It was a shame because I really wanted to play that event, there was a lot of family and friends coming over and I was really disappointed. I’m all healthy now so it’d all good.
“I always intended to play here. It’s nice to get a couple more rounds under the belt and get some confidence and it’s nice to play in Germany too, being close to home.
“I quite like it that nobody gets to the course until tomorrow, we all just tee it up tomorrow morning and go. It’s not much different to any other week. It’s going to play very soft and long which will suit me, but we’ll see. It’ll be bumpy on the greens in the afternoon but it’s going to be the same for everybody so we’ll have to just have to deal with it and get on with it.”