José Manuel Lara will return to the scene of the victory that saved his European Tour career next week at the Austrian GolfOpen presented by Lyoness.
And as the Spaniard prepares to defend his title at the Diamond Country Club, he reflected upon the importance of his brilliant play-off victory over England’s David Lynn that secured his European Tour card 12 months ago.
Lara looked likely to lose his playing rights on the Tour after a dreadful mid-season run of nine consecutive missed cuts saw him fall to 130th in The Race to Dubai, but, having ended his miserable run of form by making the cut at the previous week’s KLM Open, Lara travelled to Austria in optimistic mood.
He began last year’s final round at the Diamond Country Club some four shots behind Lynn and compatriot Danny Willett, but a superb round of 64 – that included ten birdies – ensured Lara a sudden-death shoot-out with Lynn which he won at the first extra hole.
“It was such an important moment for me to win in Austria last year,” reflected the 34 year old. “The timing could not have been better for me to win, given the situation I was in.
“I was fighting to keep my card and had not played well for the whole season really so to go there and play so well, especially in the final round under a lot of pressure, was very special. I have thought about that victory a lot and obviously have a lot of great memories of the tournament and I still think about it a lot.
“I remember playing well in the first round last year and when I finished I thought that I had played okay but could have scored even better than six under. Then I looked at the leaderboard and realised that the other players were only getting to four or three under, so I thought maybe this golf course is the one for me.
“I didn’t play great in the second or third rounds, but in the last round I just made such a great start and played some perfect golf – I made ten birdies and you don’t have to say any more than that.”