Cologne warm-up for Ryder Cup stars

Four members of Europe’s Ryder Cup team will warm up for next week’s battle at Valhalla by contesting the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Cologne, which gets under way tomorrow.

Four members of Europe’s Ryder Cup team will warm up for next week’s battle at Valhalla by contesting the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Cologne, which gets under way tomorrow.

Rookies Soren Hansen and Graeme McDowell will join Miguel Angel Jimenez and Robert Karlsson at Gut Larchenhof, where Hansen will defend the title he won last year.

The four team-mates headline an elite 78-man field which includes 29 European Tour winners from this season as well as invites Fred Couples, John Daly and Bernhard Langer.

Hansen won the title in 2007 with a grandstand finish, making two eagles on the back nine to win by four strokes and claim the biggest win of his career.

Since then he has continued to impress with a series of top-10 finishes to become only the second Dane – after Thomas Bjorn – to feature in the Ryder Cup.

Jimenez is another player in form at the right time. After a three-week break the 44-year-old finished joint third in last week’s Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

Karlsson is back in action after recovering from a neck injury which ruled him out of last week’s event at Crans sur Sierre, while McDowell will be looking for his third victory of the year after wins in the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea and The Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.

Home favourite Langer will be attempting to win his own tournament for a fifth time and become the oldest victor in European Tour history, and is also in good form after his maiden European Seniors Tour victory in the Czech Republic last week.

Fellow German Martin Kaymer will be looking for a second home victory of the season after his success in Munich in June.

Kaymer, who also won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in January, missed out on a Ryder Cup debut by the narrowest of margins when he finished 11th on the qualifying list before being overlooked for a wild card by captain Nick Faldo.

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