Markus Brier hopes a few home comforts and a stunning record on home soil can inspire him to victory in this week’s Austrian Golf Open at Vienna’s Fontana Golf Club, the scene of the some of the best moments of his career.
Brier, whose maiden European Tour victory came at Fontana three years ago, lives within an hour’s drive of the course and in the past has used local knowledge to full effect, winning the tournament at Fontana in 2004 when it formed part of the Challenge Tour schedule, having previously triumphed in 2002 at Steiermärkischer.
The 41 year old then provided one of the finest moments in his country’s sporting history when he became the first Austrian to win on The European Tour in June 2006, and he added another title at the 2007 Volvo China Open in Shanghai.
He has not quite hit those heights this season – a tie for eighth at the Volvo China Open in April is his best finish so far – but he believes the memories of previous victories at Fontana, particularly when he bagged a hole in one in the first round in 2006, can help him reproduce his best form.
“I know what to expect in Austria, be it Challenge Tour or main Tour,” said Brier, who is 102nd in The Race to Dubai heading into this week. “I only have good memories. The highlight in 2006 was the hole in one but I knew at that stage things were going my way. On the last day I holed a great putt on the 13th and I was really confident.
“When I look at the tape – as I do from time to time – I enjoy seeing it again. I watched it in May or June and I will definitely have another look before next week’s event. Not only does it bring back great memories, it reminds me of how I was swinging and hitting the ball. I hit nearly all the fairways on Sunday and it gives me a good view of how it should be.
“Overall I am really looking forward to it. The spectators are always right behind me and I am keeping my fingers crossed for another good week.”
Brier, who joins Frenchman Thomas Levet, Scotsman Paul Lawrie, Englishman Nick Dougherty and José Maria Olazabal of Spain in the field, knows that being the home favourite will mean his preparations this week are slightly different from normal.
“It is always busy and demands a lot of my time,” he continued. “I try to take it easy on Monday and Tuesday – it’s not as if I don’t know the course – and stay at home with the family and do any media and promotional work that’s required. But I only live a 45-minute drive from the course.”
Brier believes the course will benefit from being moved to later in The European Tour schedule, having previously been played in June, adding: “I think there has been more time to prepare and with a good warm summer it will be firmer than when we have played in early June. I think it’s good for the course. It is a bit harder and the rough will be up. So it will be a different challenge – tougher on the greens if it doesn’t rain. The course is not so long but the greens are tougher.”