Home hero Praegant on familiar ground

01/06/2012 14:14:29
Austrians Florian Praegant (r) and Roland Steiner ()
Austrians Florian Praegant (r) and Roland Steiner ()
Florian Praegant will hope to drive away with the prize at next week’s Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda, which will be played for the fourth successive season at Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim, the club to which he is attached.

The Austrian, who is also sponsored by Mazda, will thus be on be on familiar territory as he goes in search of his maiden Challenge Tour title.

Praegant, who just missed out on promotion to The European Tour through last year’s Challenge Tour Rankings, finished in a tie for 34th place in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2009, when a third round of 78 marred an otherwise impressive display in Klagenfurt, the capital city of the federal state of Carinthia.

Results so far this season have been mixed, with a tied eight finish at the Barclays Kenya Open his best performance of the campaign, but a return to his home course could help spark a return to form for the 28 year old.

Praegant will be joined at Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim by his compatriots Thomas Feyrsinger and Roland Steiner, who has finished in the top in his last two editions of the €160,000 event.

Both will be bidding to emulate the achievement of Martin Wiegele, who followed up his win at the  Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda in 2010 with another victory a fortnight later at the dual ranking SAINT-OMER Open presented by Neuflize OBC, thereby earning instant promotion to The European Tour.  

Other notable names in the field include Italian Marco Crespi, winner of last week’s Telenet Trophy. Crespi is one of three winners from this year’s Challenge Tour in action in Austria, with Germany’s Max Kieffer and England’s Eddie Pepperell – respectively fifth and sixth in Rankings – also vying for their second titles.

Of the more experienced campaigners, European Tour champions Ross McGowan of England and Denmark’s Jeppe Huldahl – who finished runner-up in Brittany last month – will both be hoping to secure swift returns to the top tier.

The same applies to Frenchman Alex Kaleka, tied fourth in his last appearance at the Telenet Trophy, and Denmark’s Andreas Hartø, currently second in the Rankings thanks chiefly to his third place finish at the lucrative Madeira Islands Open – Portugal.

Last year’s winner was Frenchman Edouard Dubois, who reeled in the long-time leader Andrea Pavan of Italy with a superb closing round of 63 to finish on 23 under par.

The 7.053 yards, par 72 course at Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim is notable mainly for its many water hazards.