Markus Brier returns to Fontana Golf Club in Vienna this week convinced that there really is no place like home. The 38 year old Austrian, who is attached to the golf club, will once again be aiming to make full use of local knowledge as he defends the BA-CA Golf Open, presented by Telekom Austria, title he won amid tumultuous scenes 12 months ago.
That stunning victory delighted the entire nation as their local hero stepped up to claim a richly deserved success. Brier had won at Fontana twice when it was a Challenge Tour event but his 18 under par total of 266, to beat Denmark’s Søren Hansen by three shots, represented the first time any Austrian golfer had triumphed on The European Tour International Schedule.
For Brier however, it represented more than that. It symbolised the fact he was finally ready to take his game to the next level. A late convert to the professional game at age 27, his six years on The European Tour from 2000 to 2005 were filed under the journeyman category before all that changed at the Fontana Golf Club in June 2006.
Victory helped him finish inside the top 50 on The European Tour Order of Merit for the first time and gave him the confidence that he could feature amongst the upper echelons on a regular basis – a belief he has used to great effect this season.
A stunning April saw him win the Volvo China Open and finish tied for fifth place in the BMW Asian Open in consecutive weeks in Shanghai, while in May he was beaten in a play-off by Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño for the Telecom Italia Open and finished tied 12th in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.
Little wonder then that Brier is already looking further afield to the possibility of becoming the first Austrian golfer to play in The Ryder Cup.
“To play in The Ryder Cup would be a dream come true and the wins have brought me nearer to believing I can do it,” he said. “When I came on Tour seven years ago I was far away from even winning a tournament but you have to keep believing in yourself and that is what I have done.
“Without doubt the thing which started all this was my win at Fontana last year. Your first win is always pretty special but especially when it is at home. It has done wonders for me but also for golf and golf coverage in Austria.
“It has doubled the media attention of the sport and I am getting phone calls which would not have happened a couple of years ago. Juniors are also starting to play, and not just the ones with parents who already play, and there are also golfing projects starting up which I am involved with.”
Understandably, Brier will command the bulk of the attention this week from media and spectators alike but a strong field has assembled on the outskirts of the Austrian capital in an attempt to bag the limelight for themselves come Sunday night.
Leading the way are three members of Europe’s last Ryder Cup Team at The K Club, Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood.
The Englishman, Irishman and the Scotsman have won 57 times on The European Tour International Schedule but none of them have tasted success in Austria. All three will believe this week represents as good a time as any to start.
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