Bernd Wiesberger returns to Diamond Country Club, the scene of his fairytale home victory, to defend the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity this week brimming with confidence once again.
Weekend rounds of 64 and 66 at the Nordea Masters in Sweden helped Wiesberger secure third place on Sunday which, coupled with the fond memories of his win twelve months ago, will make the 27 year old a force to be reckoned with.
“It was an unbelievable weekend and great to play the way I did just before heading home to Austria,” said Wiesberger immediately after his final round at Bro Hof Slott GC. “I am very pleased with my finish and to finish off in the top three against such a good field is a huge boost ahead of defending my title.”
Wiesberger, who graduated from the Challenge Tour in 2010, enjoyed a stunning 2012 season on The European Tour last year when he won twice, following his maiden success in the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea with victory in front of adoring home fans at Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg, coming from four shots behind with a blazing final round of 65 to win by three.
“It was a dream come true last year - to win in Korea and then come home to my national open with all the crowd there and I was really pleased to pull it off that week,” he said. “I feel very comfortable at Atzenbrugg, there are so many friendly faces and that is something you can feed off.”
His record at Diamond CC is impressive as he finished joint fifth in 2011 before winning last year, and expectations are high as Wiesberger has taken over the mantle of Austria’s Number One from Markus Brier, the first home winner of the title in 2006.
“I have played well the last two years, it’s a great tournament and venue and it’s special to be on home soil,” added Wiesberger. “I love the place. I played well as an amateur and always felt I had an advantage there. The course suits my eye and that is a positive for me. Plus recent results and the win last year make it all the better.
“Yes, there are expectations to deal with but I am in a good state of mind and playing decent golf and hopefully I can get into a position to compete. I’ll try and prepare well and get my game in as good a shape as possible for the first round on Thursday.”
Wiesberger is not the only player bringing form to Austria with the likes of Miguel Angel Jiménez, who celebrated becoming the first continental European golfer to play 600 European Tour events with a tied fourth place in the BMW PGA Championship two weeks ago, and Thomas Björn, joint fourth in Sunday in Stockholm, looking for another strong performance.
Jiménez said: "I've been playing really well and my leg (which he broke in a skiing accident in the winter) is feeling fine. This is a great course here at Diamond Country Club with a lot of challenges.
"It's not a course where the longer you can hit it the better. You have to shape your shots and be in the right positions."
The field also includes former world tennis number one Yagevny Kafelnikov, the double Grand Slam winner having traded his racquet for clubs as he pursues a professional golf career. Kafelinkov competed last year, shooting rounds of 75 and 77 but missed the cut.