Austria’s golfing evolution gathers momentum this week by welcoming the European Challenge Tour for the MAN NÖ Open, a tournament that will allow the host nation to further develop the many talented players currently being coached by 2004 European Ryder Cup Vice Captain, Anders Forsbrand.
The Swede has been employed by the Austrian Golf Federation to oversee the development of the game in Austria, and over the past 18 months, has helped to implement a structure that will hopefully produce a new generation of players capable of matching the marvellous achievements of Markus Brier, who became the first Austrian winner on The European Tour earlier this season at the BA CA Golf Open presented by Telekom Austria.
Forsbrand, a six time winner on The European Tour, was one of the early pioneers of the Swedish golf system that made the Scandinavian country one of the strongest golfing nations in the world outside of the USA and the UK.
Now he is lending his expertise to Austria, which, like Sweden in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is a small country looking to make their mark on golf’s world map.
“Every country has its own way of doing things, and there are different methods for different people, but we believe we are going the right way about creating a structure for developing players in Austria,” said Forsbrand.
“The Austrian Golf Federation have been fantastic in its support, and they are really getting as many kids of all ages involved in the game, from the age of four all the way up to turning professional. That seems unique to me.
“If the kids are good enough then they will get the support and that is a great comfort for players who are trying to improve and break through the system. It’s one less thing for them to worry about and allows them to concentrate on their golf.”
Forsbrand also hopes that Austria’s current Challenge Tour contingent, Thomas Feysinger, Clemens Prader, Martin Wiegele and Niki Zitny can quickly follow Brier on to The European Tour, starting at the Golf Culb Adamstal this week.
“The Austrian guys out on the Challenge Tour have to step it up now. They are developing all the time, and their work ethic, and the sense that they are a team, is tremendous. But the next step for the guys is to get the results on the board and try and break into the top 20 on the Rankings.
“I think in the next few years we will see a lot more Austrian players doing well on the Challenge Tour. Last year we had six players in the top 30 of the Alps Tour, so I would hope that some of them can step up to the Challenge Tour and eventually the main Tour to try and give Markus some help out there.”
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