Austria’s leading professional Markus Brier will take on the cream of the Europe’s rising talent this week when the European Challenge Tour returns to his homeland for the Kärnten Golfopen presented by Markus Brier.
The two time European Tour winner is following in the footsteps of Thomas Björn, Alex Cejka, Darren Clarke, Marcel Siem and Henrik Stenson in lending his support to a Challenge Tour event and is part of a strong Challenge Tour field at Golfclub Klagenfurt-Seltenheim, in Klagenfurt, Austria.
Brier has won twice on the Challenge Tour in his own country: the 2002 Austrian Golf Open and the BA-CA Golf Open presented by Telekom Austria in 2004, before he captured the title again in 2006 when it formed part of The European Tour International Schedule.
In so doing Brier, who later added the Volvo China Open to his CV in 2007, became the first Austrian European Tour champion, and this week he is hoping to inspire a new generation, with compatriot Roland Steiner, who finished tied 11th in last week’s Telenet Trophy, among those hoping to prosper as a consequence.
Brier lost in a play-off to André Bossert last year in the MAN NÖ Open on the Challenge Tour, played in the Austrian town of Ramsau, and while his aim for the event is to nurture the young talent he is also hoping to win.
“It will be good fun for me playing a Challenge Tour event. It will be good to have a look at the guys from my foundation – I have four in the field,” said the 40 year old.
“They’ve got talent and they have to learn, but they have a chance. The tournament is aimed at helping the young players. It is very important for the young Austrian players, who don’t have a category to get playing opportunities.
“The Challenge Tour fields are deeper than when I played. There are guys from more countries – South America and South Africa for example – and more players can win, so it is a lot tougher.
“It is a good tight course with a lot of water. I’m quite happy being the man they want to beat. For me, it is a relaxing week. Last year I lost in a play-off, and it was a week I enjoyed.”
Brier is joined in the field by the current top two on the Challenge Tour Rankings, England’s Gary Boyd and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, who won the Tusker Kenya Open and Piemonte Open respectively this season.
François Calmels of France also travels to Austria hoping to reproduce the sort of form that led him to his maiden Challenge Tour victory in the Telenet Trophy last week.
The Parisian finished two strokes clear of Spaniard Carlos Rodiles and Englishman Sam Walker – both of whom are in this week’s field – to cap a fine week for the 27 year old, which started when his girlfriend Jade Schaeffer won her own maiden Ladies European Tour title in Germany.
In addition to Brier and Steiner, the home challenge will also include Thomas Feyrsinger and Florian Praegant.
The 6,286 metres, par 72 Championship Course at Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim was designed by Perry Dye, the eldest son of one of the world’s leading golf course designers, Peter Dye.