Austria’s Martin Wiegele was not too disappointed when he failed to qualify for the US Open Championship two weeks ago, as it meant he would be able to defend his title in the Saint-Omer Open presented by Neuflize OBC.
The 32 year old notched his first European Tour victory 12 months ago at Aa Saint Omer Golf Club, a fortnight after winning the Kärnten Golf Open on the Challenge Tour in his homeland.
Between those victories, his rest week involved a visit to an Austrian rock festival with his girlfriend, and this year he did exactly the same thing – although this time he missed one of his favourite bands, Iron Maiden, in order to travel to the tournament.
“It’s a great feeling to be back here as defending champion,” said Wiegele. “I tried to qualify for the US Open but I missed out by three shots. Although it’s a Major, it wasn’t a huge disappointment because I can come back here.
“It brings back nice memories. I like the course and today in the Pro-Am I started off with a birdie so maybe it’s a good omen. I’ve been playing well today and hoping for another very good tournament.
“Last week I went to a rock festival again, the same one as last year. Just by chance I had a break the same week as the rock festival so my girlfriend and I packed our tent and off we went. We thought it would be good to have the same preparations as last year, although I do enjoy rock music.
“It is good to do something completely different. It worked out last year and hopefully will again this year. We saw Linkin Park and a few others, but this year I missed Iron Maiden because they were playing on the Monday and I had to get my things ready to come here.”
Wiegele knows the 6846 yard, par 72 course is a tough test, with its undulating fairways and steep slopes, but was in an optimistic mood on the eve of the tournament.
“I’ve played here a few times and never had a calm day,” he said. “Every tournament here has been windy and I expect the same again. It won’t be low scoring. I’ll be trying to play smart and use the same tactics as last year.
“It was my first victory on The European Tour and it brings back great memories. I didn’t play last week in Italy because I needed a break. So I’m feeling refreshed and I know if I have a good week I can make some good money. The whole tournament is very well organised and I’ve been made to feel very welcome.”