José Maria Olazábal will make his first appearance in the Austrian Golf Open in Vienna this week, after the Spanish star was inspired by seeing the course on television.
The double Masters Tournament champion's decision to play came too late for him to enter under his normal category, but not all the sponsors' invitation spots had been taken and so he could be fitted in.
Olazábal has been battling with rheumatic pains again this season and has played only three events in the last two months but was so impressed with the look of the course was determined to compete in Austria for the first time. His only previous appearance in the country was a Pro-Am a few years ago.
“I have watched the tournament on TV the last couple of years because of my injuries,” said the Spaniard. “On TV the course looks in perfect shape and a good test of golf. I got here yesterday and only had the chance to play seven holes but I have to say the condition of the course is excellent.
“I think this week we are going to see some good scoring. I am really quite impressed - it is a long golf course, there is not much run off the tee and those greens are really, really difficult. They have a lot of undulations and it will be crucial to put the ball in the right area so you have a chance to have an aggressive putt. I think we have to thank the huge effort e-motion have put into this tournament.”
Local hopes rest mainly with Markus Brier, a winner here in 2002 and 2004, when the event was on the Challenge Tour and again in 2006, when he became the first Austrian to win on The European Tour. The 41 year old admits he is looking forward to playing with Olazábal, in a group which also includes Frenchman Thomas Levet.
“We played together in The Open qualifying, then again in Cologne last week and now here. It is always a special feeling and honour to play with such a big name - a double Major Champion,” said Brier.
“It is always a challenge to play for the fans and a big motivation to play in Austria. A top ten is always a good result on The European Tour and if I can make this I would be very happy.
“That was a special feeling and special moment to win in 2006. There were 10,000 spectators following me that day and it was an unbelievable experience.”
Amongst the favourites for the title on Sunday is Søren Hansen, The Ryder Cup Dane who was joint third in the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Cologne last weekend.
"I played solid and did everything right except holing a few putts," he said.
"To come up one short is not the end of the world. I played well."
Hansen finished ninth on the points table for last year's Ryder Cup Team and is back in the same position.
The difference now, though, is that only nine rather than ten qualify for Colin Montgomerie's side. Europe's Captain asked for and was given three wild cards, one more than predecessor Nick Faldo.
Bradley Dredge, runner-up in the Omega European Masters two weeks ago and fourth in The Ryder Cup standings is in Vienna for an event won last year by Indian Jeev Milkha Singh.