June 21, 2019: Martin Kaymer delighted the home fans with a bogey free 67 that left him just one shot off the lead before play was suspended on day one of the BMW International Open. India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar shot three-under 69 and is lying at T6.
Bhullar carded two birdies, one eagle and a lone bogey to score three under 69 to trail the leader by three shots, much before play got suspended due to darkness.
An elite field had gathered at Golfclub München Eichenried and two time Major Champion Kaymer took big crowds with him as he moved to five under, just one shot behind Andrea Pavan.
Play was suspended due to the threat of lightning at 4.21pm and heavy rain followed, with two hours and 54 minutes lost before the players returned to resume play.
Darkness eventually brought an end to proceedings at 9.08pm, with nobody able to get past Pavan and 33 players yet to complete their first rounds.
Pavan had a career best season in 2018, claiming a breakthrough European Tour win at the D+D Real Czech Masters and finishing 34th on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.
He has yet to register a top ten in 2019 but an opening 66 in Munich represented his best round of the season so far.
Kaymer has four Ryder Cups on his CV and he was joined at five under by 2008 Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson.
England’s Lee Westwood – a ten time Ryder Cup player – and Dane Jeff Winther were at four under, a shot clear of a group containing defending champion and World Number 24 Matt Wallace.
Kaymer’s last European Tour victory came at the 2014 U.S. Open Championship but the German is beginning to show signs of the form that made him a Race to Dubai Champion and World Number One.
The 34-year-old claimed the second of his 11 European Tour wins at this event 11 years ago and he was delighting the home crowds again on Thursday.
“As a German it’s rare that we have these chances,” he said. “If you’re from Great Britain or America, you play many tournaments in those countries. It’s also a little bit tricky. You know this will happen because I’ve played here for 15 years or so, it leads to a little adjustment on the first few holes, but it’s very fun.
“I didn’t make many major mistakes. I played solid – I didn’t play great, but I played solid.”
Starting on the back nine, he birdied the 11th, 13th, 16th and 18th but then made eight straight pars, including a couple of impressive saves.
He was never in any danger on the ninth, hitting the green at the par five in two and claiming a fifth gain of the day.
Starting on the tenth, Pavan got off to a flying start, eagling the par five 11th and making birdies on the 12th, 13th and 15th as he turned in 31.
An approach to 12 feet on the fifth helped move him to six under and an excellent pitch on the par five sixth meant he had a comfortable cushion at the top.
Trouble off the tee then brought his only bogey of the day at the ninth as he made his best start to an event since last season’s KLM Open.
“It’s nice being in this position,” he said. “My first round scoring has been pretty poor this year. This puts me in a good spot, I just need to keep playing well and stick to the game plan.”
Wilson entered the season without full playing privileges but five top tens already mean his place on Tour should be secure for 2020 as he looks for a second victory.
The 38-year-old birdied the 11th and 12th and bounced back from a bogey on the 15th with further gains on the 16th and 17th.
Another birdie on the fourth edged him further up the leaderboard and an approach to tap-in range at the next had him in solo second before Kaymer’s late birdie.
Winther made a slow start with a bogey on the second but fought back well with birdies on the fifth, sixth, 13th, 16th and last, while Westwood finished his round in the fading light with a closing birdie, adding to gains on the first, sixth, ninth and 13th, and a bogey on the 11th.
Race to Dubai leader Wallace had four birdies and a bogey in his round to sit at three under in a group of 14 players that also included European Tour winners Gaganjeet Bhullar, Robert Karlsson, Richard McEvoy, Haydn Porteous, Alvaro Quiros, Andy Sullivan and Romain Wattel.
Swedish pair Joakim Lagergren and Alex Noren were at three under with holes left to play on Friday morning.