A strong Austrian contingent, including former champion Martin Wiegele, will have their sights set on securing a home victory this week when the seventh edition of the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda takes place at the picturesque Golfclub Schloss Finkenstein.
Wiegele took the title in dramatic fashion in 2010, recording a hole in one at the eighth – the same hole he had aced in the final round of the tournament 12 months previously – en route to finishing one stroke clear of a trio of challengers.
In his very next appearance, Wiegele won in St Omer to earn instant promotion to The European Tour and, having fully recovered from the two rounds of hip surgery which resulted in him losing his playing privileges on the top tier, Wiegele is now ready to shine again on home soil.
Wiegele is one of three former champions in the field, with Frenchman Edouard Dubois and South African Dylan Frittelli, who won in 2011 and 2013 respectively, also in the 156-man field.
Dubois arrives in the beautiful town of Gödersdorf in fine fettle, having come close to capturing his third Challenge Tour title in last week’s Made in Denmark Challenge.
The 26 year old entered the final round one shot off the lead but struggled to cope in the brutal conditions in Copenhagen on the last day, eventually finishing in third place behind Max Orrin.
Having finished in a share of eight place in Turkey it was Dubois’ second top ten in consecutive weeks, and moved him to 11th place in the Road to Oman Rankings.
The rankings are currently led by Frittelli’s compatriot Haydn Porteous, thanks to his victory in the season-opening Barclays Kenya Open.
Since his maiden victory in Nairobi Porteous has been plying his trade either on The European Tour or the Sunshine Tour in his native South Africa, but the 21 year old returns to Challenge Tour duty this week keen to protect his position at the head of affairs.
Other notable names in the line-up include Manuel Trappel, who in 2011 became the first Austrian winner of the European Amateur Championship; Welshman Rhys Davies, who recently returned to the winners’ enclosure after a five-year absence in the Turkish Airlines Open; and talented teenager Dominic Foos, playing his first season as a professional after enjoying a stellar amateur career.
Foos will be bidding to follow in the footsteps of his fellow German Moritz Lampert, who claimed the title last year.
Lampert and Byeong-hun An, two of the most exciting youngsters playing in Europe, went head to head on a thrilling final day, with Lampert eventually prevailing by a single stroke to secure his first Challenge Tour title.
Lampert would later record two more victories to earn instant promotion to The European Tour, where he has since been joined by Byeong-hun, who is enjoying a tremendous debut season.
Other former winners of the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda include the 2012 champion Gary Stal, who entered the winners’ circle on The European Tour in Abu Dhabi earlier this season.