The European Tour returns to the Czech Republic this week for the first time since 2011, with the Albatross Golf Resort on the outskirts of the country’s capital Prague, the backdrop for the inaugural D+D REAL Czech Masters.
It is also the penultimate week of the qualification campaign for The 2014 Ryder Cup, with Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher and Dutchman Joost Luiten chasing a victory that would boost their chances of claiming a ticket to Gleneagles next month.
The Czech Republic proved a happy hunting ground for a Ryder Cup hopeful the last time the biennial contest was staged on European soil, with Peter Hanson winning the Czech Open at Prosper Golf Resort, in Čeladná to earn his spot in Colin Montgomerie’s team at The Celtic Manor Resort.
The trio in contention this year will therefore hope the Albatross Course proves a lucky omen for them, with Donaldson (eighth) currently just inside the automatic spots on the World Points List, and both Gallacher (11th) and Luiten (15th) in hot pursuit.
They are joined in the field by Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who returns to action a fortnight after playing alongside Rory McIlroy in the final group at the US PGA Championship. Wiesberger finished in a share of 15th position at Valhalla, and the two-time European Tour winner will take confidence from his best showing in a Major Championship.
Englishman Oliver Fisher triumphed the last time the European Tour visited the Czech Republic three years ago, finishing two shots clear of the field in the Czech Open. He has been in good form so far in 2014, posting four top ten finishes, which included a runner up in the Africa Open, after he lost to Thomas Aiken in a play-off. He also posted a tie for fourth in last week’s Made in Denmark.
Fisher said: “It will be nice going back to the Czech Republic. A few of my friends are coming out for the week. Winning there in 2011 was great. It showed that I could win. That was the biggest thing for me – to show that I could do it. The win in the Czech was my first European Tour win and it will always be a great memory.
“It is in Prague this year so it will be a little different, and I don’t know the course, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Another former winner of the Czech Open, Sweden’s Oskar Henningsson, is also among the tournament invites, along with home favourite Marek Novy, who has been playing on the European Challenge Tour this year.
The tournament continues The European Tour group’s association with promoter Relmost, who have staged the D+D REAL Czech Challenge on the Challenge Tour since 2012, along with a new event, the D+D REAL Slovakia Challenge, played back in June.