Joost Luiten defends a title for the first time on The European Tour when he returns to Austria this week for the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity.
The Dutchman triumphed by two shots from Dane Thomas Björn last year, and went on to claim his third European Tour title by winning the KLM Open on home soil three months later.
Luiten has carried that form into the 2014 season, posting three top ten finishes and finishing tied 12th on his last appearance, in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.
A Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles in September remains a realistic ambition for the 28 year old, who is hoping for another polished performance at Diamond Country Club.
“I'm looking forward to going back there,” he said. “I like the place, I like the course and the people are really nice.
“It's always nice winning tournaments, and this will be my first time that I'm going to defend, so I'm really looking forward to the week.
“Last year I basically led from the beginning until the end, and it's a bit different pressure than when you come from behind. It was a good experience and I was very proud that I kept it going the last round and won by two.
“I think I’ve learned a lot from those victories last year and I'm more experienced now. I think I have changed a little bit over the last year with two wins, and it makes you a better player.”
The man Luiten succeeded as champion, home favourite Bernd Wiesberger, will be hoping to regain the title after finishing in a share of 14th position last year.
In 2012, Wiesberger fired a stunning final round of 65 to finish three shots clear of Ireland’s Shane Lowry and France’s Thomas Levet, claiming his second European Tour title just three months after his maiden triumph in the Ballatine’s Championship in Korea.
Also targeting a ‘home’ victory this week is Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez, the oldest winner in European Tour history, who recently moved to Vienna after marrying his Austrian wife Susanna last month.
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