The 14,500 fans who braved the wind and rain to watch the final round of the 2012 BMW International Open certainly got their money’s worth. As if the drama that played out over the 18 regulation holes were not enough, Danny Willett (ENG, -11) and Marcus Fraser (AUS, -11) then produced an encore worthy of any stage, with the Englishman eventually emerging triumphant on the fourth hole of a nail-biting play-off.
Fraser was first into the clubhouse after a round of 71 (-1 for the day) and for a brief moment it looked unlikely that 24-year-old Willett would even force the play-off. Needing a birdie to tie with the Australian, the man from Sheffield fired his tee shot way right of the fairway, into the rough under a tree. What came next was the first of three spectacular rescue shots from Willett, who, with little backswing, fired his ball over 200 yards into the wind and onto the green. He went on to make his par and was soon heading back down the eighteenth to play the first extra hole.
The decisive moments finally came on the fourth hole of the play-off: Fraser landed his approach shot about 10 metres from the hole before Willett decided to take on the pin from the centre of the fairway. Willett could not believe it when his ball flew over the green and came to a rest just in front of the BMW Fairway Club. Advantage Fraser – but only briefly. The Englishman produced another stroke of genius with a wonderful flop shot to within 50cm of the hole. Fraser responded in style, rolling his putt for the championship into the hole and then watching in disbelief as it lipped out. With the disappointment still in his mind, he then missed the return putt from one metre to hand the title to a delighted Willett, who was later presented with the coveted trophy and a winner’s cheque for 333,330 Euros.
Local favourite Marcel Siem (GER, -9) cut a tragic figure as he trudged from the 18th green. The German had played his way into a share of the lead by the sixth hole, before twice finding the water on his way to a triple-bogey on the seventh. He was back in the wet stuff on the eight and then carded a second bogey in succession on the ninth to all but end his bid to become the second German winner after Martin Kaymer in 2008. Siem finished in sixth place, one shot behind a group of three players tied in third on -10: Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño (ESP), Paul McGinley (IRL), Chris Wood (ENG).
Willett will be back in Germany to defend his title in 2013, when the BMW International Open returns to Golfclub München-Eichenried in Munich for the 25th anniversary of the tournament.