Although there are nearly 1,500 miles between his native Malaga and Prosper Golf Resort, in Čeladná, Miguel Angel Jiménez will still feel at home when he tees up at next week’s Czech Open.
The charismatic Spaniard, winner of 18 European Tour titles and a veteran of four Ryder Cups, co-designed both the Old and New Courses at Prosper Golf Resort, which became the first of Jiménez’s creations to host a European Tour event when it staged the Czech Open in 2009.
That tournament was won by Oskar Henningsson, who returns to the 7,452 yards, par 72 layout in Čeladná, near Ostrava, hoping to continue Sweden’s recent dominance of an event which was first staged in 1994, when Per-Ulrik Johansson took the title.
Henningsson was followed into the winners’ enclosure last year by his compatriot Peter Hanson, who effectively sealed his place in the European Team for The 2010 Ryder Cup when he edged out England’s Gary Boyd and Irishman Peter Lawrie with a birdie putt from 20 feet on the second extra hole.
Jiménez finished in a tie for seventh place 12 months ago, and the 47 year old – who is currently competing at the US PGA Championship – will be hoping a return to the course he helped design will inspire him to his first victory of the season, having finished runner-up at both the Volvo Golf Champions and the Ballantine’s Championship.
Jiménez created the two hilly courses, which opened in 2001 (Old) and 2003 (New), with accuracy in mind, as most of the fairways are narrow and lined with trees. The signature hole is the par three 15th, where players hit their tee shot to an island green.
Both the Old and New Courses are situated within the shadow of the Beskydy Mountain range, affording spectacular views of the surrounding scenery.
Other notable names in the field include former Ryder Cup player David Howell of England, who signalled a return to form with a tied eighth finish at the recent Irish Open presented by Discover Ireland, where he had jointly held the lead going into the final round.
His fellow European Tour champions Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and in-form Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, who has finished tied sixth and joint 11th in his last two European Tour appearances, represent the global nature of the €1.5million event, which was won in 1997 by two-time Major Champion Bernhard Langer of Germany.