Listen carefully. This is a little complicated. So stay with me here.
Six men – Martin Kaymer, Aaron Rai, Lucas Bjerregaard, Scott Hend, Max Kieffer and Chris Paisley – went to bed on the eve of the BMW International Open’s final round tied for the lead on five-under par. By the time they reached the first tee the next morning, all six were four shots off the pace, courtesy of Thorbjorn Olesen’s course-record 61 at Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof just outside Cologne. And 4½ hours after that, Matt Wallace, who woke up on Sunday morning two strokes behind all those overnight leaders, was the champion, one shot ahead of Kaymer, Olesen and Mikko Korhonen.
Truly, golf is the most unpredictable of games.
Olesen first then. Two-over par through 54 holes and seemingly out of contention, the Dane, recent winner of the Italian Open and nine days removed from missing the cut by a shot at the US Open, made nine birdies and an eagle in the bogey-free effort that set such a stern target for the sextet at the top of the leaderboard. Five of those birdies came in the last six holes. Someone was going to have to play well to beat his nine-under-par 279 total.
In the end, that man was Wallace, who also failed to make the weekend at Shinnecock Hills by the narrowest of margins. The 28-year-old Englishman made seven birdies, and no bogeys, in a closing 65 that was good enough to take him to 10-under par and a second victory of this European Tour season. Like Olesen, Wallace made his score on the back nine. Five birdies in seven holes from the turn from the Hero Indian Open champion set an even more challenging target for those in the final two groups. One that was, eventually, too much for all of them.
“Brilliant to win here in Germany,” said Wallace, who also claimed the Open de Portugal crown towards the end of last year. “The BMW is such a great event, and to play against the likes of Martin Kaymer and the guys at the top there, it’s great. I have worked hard for this. I believe I can do it. I want to go further, I want to keep building on this. Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well, and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on. This is great, this is a step in the right direction. We’ll keep working hard to bigger and better things.”
Of the three runners-up, Kaymer surely left the course with the biggest regrets. Already nine-under par, the former US Open and PGA champion stood maybe 20 metres short of the green on the 363-metre 17th after a perfect tee shot. Unfortunately, the German’s next effort was less impressive. Badly thinned, Kaymer’s pitch careered through the green into heavy rough. Three more to get down meant the former world No.1’s chance for a first victory since Pinehurst No.2 four years ago had all but gone. His birdie on the final hole, courtesy of a 20-foot putt, was irrelevant as far who was going to be cashing the €333,330 first-place cheque was concerned.
Josh Geary, the lone Kiwi in the field, missed the cut.