Richard Green’s long-standing link with his fellow Australian Greg Norman will resurface this week when he defends his title in the Bank Austria GolfOpen, presented by Telekom Austria, and attempts to follow in the footsteps of The Great White Shark in the process.
Two time Open Champion Norman is, to date, the only Australian in the 36 year history of The European Tour International Schedule to have won the same tournament in consecutive years: the Dunlop Masters in 1981 Woburn and in 1982 at St Pierre.
Now Green will attempt to do the same thing – and also become the first left-hander in Tour history to win the same tournament back-to-back – when he returns to the picturesque Fontana Golf Club in Vienna.
Green’s association with Norman began 11 years ago when he won his first European Tour title in the 1997 Dubai Desert Classic, claiming the honours by beating his fellow countryman and Welshman Ian Woosnam in a play-off on the Majlis Course at the Emirates Club.
Ironically his 11 year wait for his second European Tour title also ended in play-off drama in the Austrian capital 12 months ago, the 37 year old from Melbourne recovering manfully from three putting the 72nd green to return to the same spot moments later and take the title with a birdie four as Frenchman Jean-François Remesy found the water on his way to a bogey six.
“I feel like I am in the prime of my career now and I always felt I would win again and get the monkey off my back,” said Green. “Now I am looking forward to going back to Austria and the Fontana Golf Club in particular to defend my title.”
Five winners from The 2008 European Tour season will line-up at the Fontana Golf Club including the man who led from wire-to-wire to win The Celtic Manor Wales Open last week, Australian Scott Strange.
The 31 year old from Perth will be joined by Northern Irishmen Darren Clarke – who showed his continued good form with a share of fourth place in Wales – and Graeme McDowell, England’s John Bickerton and Mark Brown of New Zealand.
Leading the home challenge once again will be Markus Brier who, perhaps more than any other player in the field, knows what it takes to win at the course where he is the touring professional.
The 39 year old Austrian won twice when the venue was utilised for a European Challenge Tour event before claiming the title when the tournament returned to The European Tour International Schedule in 2006.
It was Brier’s maiden victory and gave him the impetus to go on and win in China the following year. It also ignited the interest in golf in Austria itself, a fact emphasised by his fellow countryman Martin Wiegele who won the European Tour Qualifying School at San Roque last November and who will bolster the home challenge this week.
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