The European and Challenge Tours make their long-awaited returns this week after four months in hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. First stop: Diamond Country Club for the Austrian Open.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Mikko Korhonen defeated Connor Syme by six shots at the inaugural Shot Clock Masters in 2018 – with no event played last year – but the Finn isn’t in the field this week.
COURSE: Diamond Country Club, located in Atzenbrugg near Vienna, opened in 2002 and was designed by Jeremy Pern. The par-72 parkland course stretches to 6,819 metres, features plenty of water hazards and, in 2010, had its 8th hole redesigned by Miguel Angel Jimenez.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
Dutchman Joost Luiten won this event in 2013 – defeating Thomas Bjorn by two shots – and found himself in relatively good form prior to the four-month break, sharing 21st place at the Qatar Masters and 10th at the Oman Open.
The six-time European Tour winner also took part in the virtual BMW Indoor Invitational in May, claiming the first event on the Old Course at St Andrews.
Luiten, 34, has played this event six times since 2009 and has only missed the top-10 once (T17th in ’09). He shared seventh place when he last competed at Diamond Country Club in 2017 and is favourite in the betting at $6.50.
RIGHT: Luiten has an exceptional record at Diamond Country Club and won this event in 2013. PHOTO: Warren Little/Getty Images.
Could this be the week Thomas Detry finally captures his maiden European Tour title?
The 27-year-old Belgian, who has played on Tour since 2017, hasn’t missed the cut at any of his seven starts this season and has bagged two top-10 finishes (T4th at the Mauritius Open and T6th at the Saudi International).
Detry hoisted the World Cup with his good friend Thomas Pieters at Metropolitan Golf Club in 2018 – but he hasn’t won an individual title since winning the Bridgestone Challenge on the Challenge Tour in 2016. His last and only start at this event came in 2017 and heralded a share of 67th place.
72-HOLE RECORD: Austrian Markus Brier defeated Roope Kakko and Lee Slattery by eight shots in 2004, reaching 23-under-par, 261.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Richard Green (2007).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Deyen Lawson.