The European Tour and Challenge Tour seasons resume this week at Diamond Country Club for the dual-ranking Austrian Open. Here are five things to help you get back into the swing of things.
The Return of the Austrian Open
The Austrian Open has an extensive history on both the European Tour and the Challenge Tour and returns to both schedules after a break in 2019.
The first edition of the tournament was held in 1990, with Germany’s Bernhard Langer claiming the inaugural title. In 1997 the event joined the European Challenge Tour schedule, before Austrian-native Markus Brier marked its return to the European Tour in style in 2006, with his third win at the event. From 2012 the tournament was known as the Lyoness Open, with another home hero, Bernd Wiesberger, claiming the title that year.
The last time the event was held it was under the guise of the innovative Shot Clock Masters in 2018, which was won by Mikko Korhonen.
Luiten targets more success in Austria
Joost Luiten will hope to add to an impressive list of results in Austria as he returns to the site of his second European Tour victory in 2013.
The Dutchman hasn’t finished outside of the top ten in his last four starts at the Austrian Open, with his worst result a tie for 17th during the first staging at Diamond Country Club in 2009.
“I know this course really well and I’ve had good memories here,” said Luiten.
“It’s always good to go back to courses where you’ve won before. It’s why I chose to start here. It’s a very good golf course, and for some reason it just suits my eye.
“We’ve been out for a few months but at the end of the day I’m still the same player so I’m here to try and win the tournament. That’s the goal, so hopefully I can have a good week and give myself a chance on Sunday.”
Inside the field
While Luiten will be hoping to lift the trophy for a second time this week, Austrian Markus Brier could make history as a four-time champion of the event. He currently remains the only player to win the tournament on multiple occasions, completing the feat at his home Open in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Also joining Luiten in the field are Wil Besseling and Connor Syme (runner-up here at the 2018 Shot Clock Masters), who both earned victories during the Tour’s BMW Indoor Invitational powered by TrackMan series.
Others to watch out for are Finn Sami Välimäki, who won the Oman Open back in March, and Belgian Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts, who finished tied for third place here in 2018. Miguel Angel Jimenez, who helped redesign the course in 2010, has five top 20s in his last six starts in this event.
The Austrian Open will mark the first week of a new comprehensive Health Strategy on the European Tour that will see health care specialists Cignpost deliver rapid on-site COVID-19 screening.
All tournaments played for the remainder of the 2020 season will be governed by the Health Strategy, developed by European Tour Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Murray in consultation with Cignpost and advisers across the countries in which the Tour plays.
In order to help mitigate risk, all players, caddies and other personnel on-site will be tested using Cignpost’s rapid COVID-19 screening products and services.
The rapid COVID-19 testing consists of a dry swab to collect oral and nasopharyngeal samples using mobile PCR diagnostic equipment, with results available within two hours. Participants will operate within national public health guidelines, including social distancing, and following enhanced hygiene directives.
Diamond Country Club: 10 Years on Tour
Diamond Country Club – a European Tour Destination – celebrates hosting the Austrian Open for the tenth time, having first held the tournament in 2010, with just one event-free year in 2019 since then.
The course, which is located 35km from Vienna in the beautiful Austrian countryside, was designed by Englishman Jeremy Pern and opened in 2002.
European Tour veteran and fan favourite Miguel Ángel Jiménez has since remodelled some of the holes, including a complete redesign of the signature par four eighth hole.
Water is a notable feature on the course, with a lake hugging the right side of the scenic par three 18th, making for a memorable finish.