Not quite rags to riches but a reminder of how four good rounds can change a player’s life immensely as sponsor’s invite Andres Romero won his first European Tour title for almost 10 years at the BMW International Open in Munich to gain 333,330 Race to Dubai points in the process and jump straight in to the all-important top 60 in the season rankings at No. 45.
There must be something in the German air which agrees with the Argentine as his last, and only other European Tour victory, came at the now-defunct Deutsche Bank Players Championship of Europe in 2007. He was 837th in the Official World Golf Ranking and without a European Tour card when play got underway at Golfclub München Eichenried. But after a breathtaking final round of seven under 65 saw him beat Spain’s Masters Tournament and Omega Dubai Desert Classic champion Sergio Garcia, Belgian’s Thomas Detry and Englishman Richard Bland with a winning total of 17 under par 271, Romero has now regained his playing privileges and given himself a chance of securing a place in the prestigious season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai taking place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 16-19.
“I’m very happy that I’m going to be on the European Tour again,” said Romero, who finished third behind Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia in the 2007 Open Championship which helped him to a career-high finish of seventh in the season rankings. “I enjoy it here and I want to say thanks to BMW because if it wasn’t for them giving me an invite for this event, I don’t have any category, so this is going to be life-changing.”
A day of intense drama saw Romero begin the final round three shots back from leaders Garcia and Bland at 10 under but it was, Detry, tied on the same score, who looked most likely to take the spoils after going out like a rocket with a front nine of 31. But Romero found some momentum with birdies on eight and nine before Detry dropped his first shot of the day on 10 and then revved through the gears picking up seven shots in his next 11 holes. Detry parred the last to set the clubhouse target of 16 under but Romero had the bit between his teeth and closed out his bogey-free round with a 10-footer for birdie to get to 17 under.
Garcia and Bland, playing in the final group, both needed eagles at the par five 18th to force a play-off. The Spaniard came close to chipping in from the edge of the green while the Englishman watched his 25-foot putt slip agonizingly past the hole and both settled for a share of second place as Romero entered the European Tour winner’s podium for the first time in nine years.
Garcia, Detry and Bland each received 149,140 Race to Dubai points for sharing the runner-up spot, with the latter making the biggest jump up the rankings from 176th place to 79th with 191,353 for the season. Detry, who finished 16th in last season’s Road to Oman on the European Challenge Tour, took his season tally to 303,062 after moving from 88th to 53rd place while Garcia extended his lead over Englishman Tommy Fleetwood to 221,375 points with a total of 2,701,628.
Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg finished fifth in Germany to claim 84,800 points to move from 138th place to 88th in the rankings with 163,555 for the season while Fleetwood ensured that Garcia didn’t get too far ahead at the top with a tied sixth place finish alongside Renato Paratore that saw the pair each gain 65,000 points. Italy’s rising star Paratore, winner of the Nordea Masters took his points total for the season to 459,559 and moved to 33rd place in the Race to Dubai with a second consecutive appearance in the DP World Tour Championship very much in his sights while the increasingly consistent Fleetwood now has 2,480,253 points for his season to date.
Along with title sponsors BMW, Emirates and Titleist were support sponsors of the BMW International Open.
With three consecutive US$7,000,000 Rolex Series events in the shape of the HNA Open de France, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open preceding the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, the Race to Dubai could witness some big changes in the coming weeks.