Klopp meeting buoys Willett ahead of BMW International Open

Updated: 

Masters champion Danny Willett will seek a second BMW International Open title this week, having already seen his trip to Germany result in an unexpected bonus.

One of 13 players arriving in Pulheim having competed in last week's U.S. Open at Oakmont, Liverpool fan Willett was delighted to bump into Jurgen Klopp - the Premier League club's manager - after landing at Dusseldorf Airport.

"Jurgen was about to fly out on holiday with his family after a fairly busy season. It was just great to meet him," Willett told the European Tour's official website. 

"We didn't talk much about golf to be honest, it was mostly football. He is a pretty inspirational character and is obviously hugely popular here in Germany."

Willett, who claimed his first European Tour title at this event four years ago, will be among the favourites to taste success at Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof, although a strong field also features the likes of Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Branden Grace.

 

GRACE IN GREAT FORM

South African Grace boasts six top-10 finishes in nine European Tour starts this season - including victory in the Qatar Masters in January - and also claimed a maiden PGA Tour title at April's RBC Heritage tournament. He impressed again as one of only six players to finish even par or better in the U.S. Open, and is certainly one to watch this week. 

 

NICKLAUS-DESIGNED COURSE AWAITS FIELD

Eighteen-time major champion Jack Nicklaus designed the course at Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof. Previously used for the German Masters, the venue is hosting the BMW International Open for a third time, having done so in 2012 and 2014.

 

KAYMER IN NEED OF RYDER CUP BOOST

Martin Kaymer won the 2008 edition of this tournament and could do with a strong finish this week in order to advance his claims for a Ryder Cup place. The hero of Europe's victory at Medinah in 2012 is currently some way adrift of automatic qualification for Darren Clarke's team. 

 

LARRAZABAL OUT TO DEFEND TITLE

Pablo Larrazabal claimed his second BMW International Open title 12 months ago, a final-round 66 enough for the Spaniard to pip Stenson by one shot. Larrazabal also won this event in 2011, although each of his victories came at Golfclub Munchen Eichenried, as opposed to the venue for this year's tournament.

 

BUT THE SPANIARD WILL NEED TO MAKE HISTORY

Should he triumph again this week, Larrazabal would become the first player to claim back-to-back successes at an event first played in 1989.

 

GARCIA EXPECTING 'MORE BIRDIES'

Having contended for U.S. Open glory, Garcia anticipates a slightly less severe test in Pulheim. "The rough is heavy but I am sure we are going to have to make a few more birdies here than we did at Oakmont if we are to do anything this week," said the Spaniard, who finished in a tie for fifth last week at even par.