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Marc Warren Turns Back the Clock to Win Austrian Open

By: | Mon 13 Jul 2020 | Comments

WHOEVER would have thought that Austria, of all countries, would find itself at the centre of the sporting universe this weekend?

It hosted a second successive Formula One Grand Prix as well as the low-key return of competitive professional golf, with Scotland’s Marc Warren winning the Austrian Open in Vienna. It is the first of two tournaments being played in Austria in what are effectively Challenge Tour events boosted with the presence of a smattering of European Tour golfers including Joost Luiten, Thomas Detry and the remarkable Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez, who looked like causing a massive upset when he led the field after 36 holes. Unfortunately, a third-round 77 gave the 56-year-old far too much to do.

Of  course there were no fans and several players carried their own clubs, including the winner, but they were simply delighted to return to some sort of competitive action before it starts for real at the British Masters at Close House later this month.

And what a thrilling appetiser this turned out to be, with Warren eventually falling over the finishing line. The Scot looked to have thrown it away when he dropped shots at the 11th and 12th holes but he dug deep with birdies at the 15th and 17th and parred the last to defeat Germany’s Mercel Schneider by a shot. Warren closed with a 70 for a four-round total of 275, 13 under par. It was hist first victory in six years and it has saved his career after he lost his playing privileges.

The Scot, who last tasted victory at the 2014 Made In Denmark, started the final day at Diamond Country Club in a share of the lead with Germany's Nicolai von Dellingshausen, but became involved in a thrilling battle with Spanish youngster Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez.

“2014 was the last time I won,” said Warren. “I’ve played very poorly. The break has been unfortunate for everyone but it came at a good time for me, spending some time at home and trying to get my game ready to play golf. It was nice to have such a long break with the family. The past few weeks I’ve been able to get some good work done and get ready to play golf. Came out of it pretty refreshed. Carrying my bag this week probably helped tone it down a little, just going out and playing and seeing what happens. The result couldn’t have been any better."

Garcia Rodriguez eagled the first to move to within one shot, and the pair shared the lead coming down the home straight until Warren made his sixth birdie of the day on the 17th.

After Garcia Rodriguez, who trailed by one after the 17th, hit his tee shot into the water, Warren needed just a par to secure his first title since 2014, which he duly converted from five feet.

“In my head the tournament doesn’t start until the back nine,” added Warren. “A lot can happen on the front nine here, there’s a lot of water about. It was tough, the wind was swirling. Sebastian got off to a great start, made three at the first. He started ten under, but I thought he started 11. I had him one shot better than he was. When we got to the last five or six, seeing how tight it was, I was just trying to commit as much as possible to the shots.

“Around the turn I hit a couple of great shots on nine and 10 and made two birdies. I hit a really good iron shot on 11, but the wind didn’t move it and I made bogey. I felt like that set me back a little bit, but I holed a good birdie putt on 15 and then a good putt on 17 that was really steep downhill from about 15 feet. I was trying to make sure I didn’t run it past, I tried to get the pace right and fortunately it went right in the middle.

“Going from a few hours ago I didn’t have full status, now to be in a winner’s category and plan the year a little bit is good. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, trying to hit one shape all the time and when I do play try and do that and try not to mess about too much.”

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