Martin Wiegele returns to the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda for the first time since clinching his second European Challenge Tour title in the 2010 edition, and the Austrian star hopes his cherished memories of the event will inspire him this week.
Not only has the former European Tour winner etched his name on the trophy, but he also experienced an astounding coincidence at this tournament in two consecutive seasons, having carded a hole in one twice in as many years at the very same hole.
The Graz native was rewarded with a Mazda on both occasions, meaning in just two appearances at his home Challenge Tour event, he has emerged with one title and two brand new cars.
Little wonder that Wiegele cannot wait to return, even if he is not overly familiar with the Golfclub Schloss Finkenstein course, host venue this year for the first time.
“I'm really looking forward to it,” said the 35 year old. “Obviously I have really good memories from this event. It’s going to be a different course so, while the memories are there, they are in the back of my head. My form is getting better after I had some time off in winter. I had more time to get my fitness back and get the hip working again after a long injury, so I hope to take some good form into the week.”
“I played the course two weeks ago, which was the first time I ever played it, and I was pleasantly surprised. The greens were rolling really well two weeks ago. I think the weather will be good next week, so let’s hope we get lucky.”
Now in its sixth year, the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda has proven a training ground for Austria’s young golfing stars and its success in the past few years has been clear for all to see.
The central European nation is producing young amateur stars like never before, with Manuel Trappel becoming the first Austrian winner of the European Amateur Championship in 2011, while Matthias Schwab reached the final of the 2012 Amateur Open Championship.
Wiegele believes there are many factors that have contributed to the success of his home country’s young players, and thinks it will continue for many years to come.
“In my opinion we have one of the best national coaches there is,” he said. “His name is Fred Jendelid and his co-coach is Andres Forsbrand. We have been working with them for seven years or so now, and he has also been working with the amateurs so I think that’s one of the main reasons why Austrian golf has improved so much in the last number of years.
“We also have good courses and good greens. Markus (Brier) certainly had an influence. He was the first Austrian to compete and win on The European Tour, and he showed other players like myself and Bernd (Wiesberger) that it is possible.
“Now there is a new generation with these young guys, who might have seen Markus and Bernd and me making it to the top tier and been given the motivation that it is possible to do it.
“I think the combination of everything went together and there are quite a few talented guys like Lukas, who made it through the Alps Tour in his first year as a professional and has played pretty well at the beginning of this season.
“It’s business as usual with the Challenge Tour, we get invites to other tournaments and that helps. Fred is putting some young amateurs in there this week because he wants to show them what it’s like playing in a tournament like this, instead of just giving the older amateurs a spot.”
Wiegele, Nemecz and Trappel are joined in the field by their fellow Austrian Challenge Tour member Roland Steiner, while South African Dylan Frittelli will return to defend the title he claimed last year courtesy of a three-shot victory.