Markus Brier (Getty Images)
Markus Brier is hoping for a season-changing performance at this week’s Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity, an event the Austrian calls one of the most important of the year.
The 44 year old lost his European Tour card last season and, as a category 12 player, has limited starts for this campaign. However, as a former winner of the event, Brier has an exemption to his national open - played at Diamond Country Club, where he is attached – and he is eager to grasp a rare opportunity.
“It’s important not only because I’m attached here, but also it could help me for the rest of the season,” said Brier, who also won the tournament twice when it was part of the Challenge Tour, in 2002 and 2004.
“This is our home tournament and one of the biggest events of the year for me. Obviously I lost my card last year so I’m not going to get many main Tour events – maybe only six to eight of the smaller ones.
“So I need to do well when I have the chance to play. And to do it with the support of the spectators here on home soil would be great.”
Brier has the advantage of knowing Diamond Country Club - which has recently been added to the exclusive European Tour Properties portfolio as a Destination - inside out, having had a hand in the redesigns which have taken place in the last few years.
“I’ve been at Diamond Country Club a while now and it is great how the course has developed in the last few years,” he said. “There are four professionals attached to here and we have a very good team around us and excellent facilities. It’s a really good package.
“It’s a good community and I love it here. We’ve made some exciting changes to the course – we moved a few tees and put wooden sleepers by the ninth green which look really good. Next year we can play the green all the way to the water which will be very interesting.
“The 18th tee has been lengthened to make it even longer, and we’ve made a few cosmetic changes. You don’t want to do too much to a good golf course, but you can change a few bits and pieces and make it better.”
If Brier needs any further motivation for this week’s challenge, he can draw on the memories of his 2006 victory at Fontana Golf Club, where he made his European Tour breakthrough.
“To win in 2006 was big,” he said. “The first win in 2004 was great, but in 2006 it was a European Tour event and it was the best week ever. You can’t really beat winning on home soil in front of many friends and family.
“I was lucky to be the first Austrian to play on The European Tour and to win. It possibly helped the other guys to believe in themselves. I’m happy I was there at the right moment to encourage others.”
Brier added: “There are a lot of Austrian players on the Challenge Tour and the third tier tours right now. Golf in this country is growing from one year to the next and our amateurs are also doing really well. We need tournaments like this to ensure this trend continues.”