Martin Wiegele (Getty Images)
Martin Wiegele is hoping to rekindle some fond memories when he returns to his native Austria for the Kärnten Golf Open by Markus Brier Foundation this week.
The 31 year old has enjoyed success at Klagenfurt-Seltenheim Golf Club, coming tied sixth in the first edition of the tournament last year and winning the Austrian Amateur Closed Championship there eight years ago.
Wiegele has struggled for form this season, but is confident the support of the local spectators can inspire him.
“It is exciting, especially as I will be playing in front of the home crowds who will be cheering for me,” said Wiegele, whose only Challenge Tour victory came at the 2007 Lexus Open. “It always gives you something extra when you have people watching and rooting for you.
“I have very good memories from last year when I finished tied sixth and won a car as well for a hole in one at the eighth hole on the final day. It was a big Mazda SUV but I’d bought a car just before that so I took the money instead.
“Before last year I won an amateur title on that course. That was the last time I played there before going back last year, and you always have extra confidence going to a course where you know you have played well in the past.
“So I have great memories and I am looking forward to going back. I think the course is in even better condition and they have lengthened it a little bit. It’s definitely one of the best courses in Austria and hopefully the conditions will be good too so it’ll be a great week.”
The Austrian had an upturn in fortunes of late, coming tied 25th in the Mugello Tuscany Open and 41st at the Telenet Trophy in Belgium in his last two events.
“I was poor at the beginning of the year scoring-wise but I worked out that my game was good, it just wasn’t being reflected in my scores,” he added.
“Last week I managed to make the cut in Italy and was in the top ten for a while on the final day but didn’t have a good finish and came 25th. But slowly my form is improving.”
Germany’s Christoph Günther will defend the title he won 12 months ago over the 7,053 yard Alpine course. Günther won in stunning fashion last year, coming from five shots behind on the final day to win with a course record round of 62, having not even made the cut in any of his previous 20 Challenge Tour appearances spanning more than four years.
Englishman Charlie Ford, who won the Turkish Airlines Challenge hosted by Carya Golf Club, will also be in the field to contest the €160,000 prize fund, as will Dutchman Floris De Vries, who captured the Mugello Tuscany Open.
Young Frenchmen Edouard Dubois and Alex Kaleka, who finished runner-up and third respectively to Lee Slattery in the Telenet Trophy last week, are also playing.