SO, THAT was The Open. Now it is back to business for the European Tour as Alexander Levy defends the Porsche European Open in Hamburg, and the organisers will be praying for better luck with the weather than they had in 2016.
It was reduced to 54 holes due to fog delays over the first three days at Golf Resort Bad Griesbach, and the Frenchman entered the third and final round with a four-shot lead at 17 under after 36 bogey-free holes. He made three bogeys in his first five holes, though, and with playing partner Ross Fisher closing the gap to one as the pair stood on the final tee, there was a tense and dramatic finish to the event.
Levy dropped another shot at the 18th, and he and Fisher had to go back up the last and after two pars at the first attempt, the 26 year old holed a birdie putt to win his third European Tour title.
The tournament was not played between 2010 and 2014. It was held at the K Club near Dublin for many years, with winners including Bernhard Langer, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Michael Campbell (remember him?), and Colin Montgomerie. In 2008 it moved to the London Club, where it was won by Fisher and the following year by Christian Cevaer. It was revived in Germany in 2015, when it was won by Thongchai Jaidee, the veteran Thai golfer who seems to improve with age.
There is a surprisingly strong field this year. Despite the fact that it is being staged at the same time as the Canadian Open
, Americans Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker are in the field. Mind you, the organisers may not believe that Reed will be there until he walks onto the first tee. He has history when it comes to entering European Tour events and choosing instead to play on his home tour.
Reed loves playing the part of the pantomime villain, and actively encouraged the crowd to boo him at the recent Scottish Open. There is not a more patriotic American in the world of golf - and there probably isn't a more ferocious competitor anywhere on the planet. He had a miserable time of it at Royal Birkdale and really hasn't had much of a season, but he is a world-class golfer and if he can get off to a good start then he will surely be in the mix on Sunday afternoon.
Charl Schwartzel is a serial under-achiever, and would probably be one of the first to admit it. It is scarcely credible that a man who swings the club so beautifully has only one major to his credit. He made a terrific start at Birkdale but then completely lost the plot. It was like he suffered some form of brain meltdown. There are few golfers anywhere in the world who strike the ball as well as the South African but he can be incredibly flaky on the greens.
Richie Ramsay is another who should have won rather more than he actually has. The Scot is a hugely underrated golfer and there are times when it seems that even he doesn't realise just quite how good he could become. Your correspondent spent a fair bit of time following Ramsay at Royal Birkdale. He had a spring in his step and hit a succession of glorious iron shots, taking on the most difficult of pins time after time. For much of the week he really looked like he belonged in this company.
In 2006, Ramsay became the first British golfer in almost a century to win the US Amateur Championship, and you don't do that unless you can cope under pressure. He has won just three times on the European Tour and it is surely time for the 34-year-old to add to that tally.
Thomas Pieters has attracted a lot of headlines since his stellar performance at the Ryder Cup last year, but there is another Belgian who is worth keeping an eye on. His name is Thomas Detry and he is 24 years old. He first picked up a club at the age of six after being introduced to the game by his father. Detry excelled at hockey and tennis before deciding to focus on golf when he was 16. He won the European Boys Championship with Pieters, and was in contention to win his very first tournament as a professional, the 2016 KPMG Trophy before eventually finishing sixth.
His breakthrough victory came at the 2016 Bridgestone Challenge where he set a Challenge Tour record for the largest winning margin after he triumphed by 12 shots. That was good enough to secure his membership of the European Tour and he duly finished third at the Alfred Dunhill Championship on his first appearance as a full member of the tour. He was also second at the recent BMW International in Germany. To Win:
Thomas Detry. Ready to take the next step
Each Way: Patrick Reed. Feisty competitor
Each Way: Richie Ramsay. Better than he thinks
Thomas Detry. Latest Belgian star
Patrick Reed. The man you love to hate
Richie Ramsay. Due another win surely
Jimmy Walker. Coming back to his best
Charl Schwartzel. Needs to step up to the plate
Alex Levy. Always plays with a smile on his face
Joost Luiton. One of the best putters in the game
Paul Peterson. Superb American left-hander
Matthew Southgate. Walking on air right now **
Paul Dunne. Improving all the time
** not in the field, tipster getting ahead of himself.
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