Martin Wiegele is hoping to build on his maiden Challenge Tour victory at the POSTBANK Challenge presented by Marcel Siem this week after two years of ‘repair and reconstruction’.
The Austrian burst onto The European Tour after finishing fourth on the 2003 Challenge Tour Rankings in his rookie year as a professional, but found progress difficult after his glorious first year in the professional ranks.
Disillusioned and disaffected with golf, Wiegele undertook some remedial work to refocus his career with Swedish coaches Anders Forsbrand and Fredrik Jendelid, who have been working with Austria’s Team Telekom – a group of Austrian professionals including Markus Brier, Thomas Feyrsinger and Niki Zitny.
Under the tutelage of Forsbrand and Jendelid, Wiegele began rebuilding his swing and confidence before anointing his comeback in quite stunning style at last week’s Lexus Open, where, after a brilliant six under par final round, he overcame Scotland’s George Murray in a sudden-death play-off to secure his first Challenge Tour title.
That elevated the 28 year old from Graz to 35th on the Challenge Tour Rankings, putting him in the running for a place on The 2008 European Tour International Schedule if he can break into the top 20.
“Winning in Norway was a great moment for me,” said Wiegele as he prepared for the POSTBANK Challenge presented by Marcel Siem at the Golfclub Mülheim an der Ruhr, in Dusseldorf.
“I have struggled for the last two years with results, but the work that I have been doing with the Swedish coaches, and the hard work I have been putting in on the range, has paid off for me.
“I haven’t started everything again, but I have changed some things in every aspect of my game, so it has taken some time to bring it all together.
“There is also the mental side of things, which is where Anders and Fredrik have been great to work with.
“You look at Anders and see a guy who has won six times on The European Tour and you listen to him because he knows how to get there. It’s the same with Fredrik, who coaches Jesper Parnevik – these guys know what they are talking about.”
Siem is emulating Denmark’s Thomas Björn, who established the Thomas Björn Open two years ago, as the second former Challenge Tour player to establish a new tournament on the tour that has, since 1991, produced 87 winners of 188 European Tour events.
Siem, who played on the Challenge Tour in seasons 2001 and 2002, took the decision to stage a Challenge Tour event in his homeland and give something back to the tour that launched his career at the beginning of this year.
“The Challenge Tour continues to get stronger and prosper every year and I hope that my tournament – with the help and backing of sponsors POSTBANK – can be a part of that for many years to come,” he said.
In Germany this week, the battle to move further up the 2007 Challenge Tour Rankings will continue. Confirmed entries include eight winners so far from this season, with England’s Peter Baker, Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey, England’s Ross McGowan and New Zealand’s Gareth Paddison all keen to win an exciting new event.
For McGowan in particular, the POSTBANK Challenge presented by Marcel Siem could carry huge significance. The Englishman, having won two events already on the 2007 Challenge Tour, could win instant promotion to The European Tour if he can take first place.