Martin Kaymer and Max Kieffer will be carrying the hopes of a nation on their shoulders when they step on to the first tee together as joint leaders in the final round of the 30th BMW International Open at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof tomorrow.
The German pair lie on five under par and in a share of the lead with four others – Lucas Bjerregaard, Chris Paisley, Aaron Rai and Scott Hend, the leader after 36 holes. With a further 14 players within three shots of the lead, the race to the finishing line is by no means a foregone conclusion.
It is fair to say, however, that the greatest expectation will fall on Kaymer, a two-time major champion who also happens to hold the record as the youngest winner in the history of the BMW International Open. It is ten years since, at 23, he held the trophy aloft and he is determined to do so again.
Kaymer, who had a third round of 71 today, started well but lost his way around the turn, with three bogeys in four holes from the 9th. He refused to buckle, however, and picked up three birdies on the home stretch to keep firmly in contention.
“The round almost got away from me in the middle, but I hung in there and had a very nice finish,” he said. “To be up there and in with a chance tomorrow was the main thing. The crowds really helped to pull me through over the last six or seven holes and I was able to feed off the atmosphere. I didn’t drive the ball very well today and kept missing fairways. It was nice that a few putts started to drop. It was a tough battle, but it was nice having everyone around supporting me. It’s always nice to be in contention, especially as it has been a while. Winning in your own country speaks for itself.”
For Kieffer (71), a BMW Friend of the Brand, victory would represent the biggest win of his career – not only in terms of a first prize of €333,330 but, primarily, in terms of prestige. To win a coveted BMW event, on home soil, would be the stuff of dreams.
“The support from the crowds was superb,” Kieffer said. “They even clapped after bad shots. I could actually have done even better today. There are so many players bunched together that the guys at five under are going to have to shoot low tomorrow. That is what I will be trying to do.”
While Kieffer and Kaymer will get the chance to watch each other at close quarters, they will need to be aware of what is happening around them. If the leaders needed reminding that a player can come out of the pack, they need only think back to Argentina’s Andres Romero, who claimed the title last year after storming through the field with a blistering final round of 64. Incidentally, Romero lies only two strokes off the lead after a 67, the joint best round of the day. Nothing, as they say, can be taken for granted.