Austrian Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
STARVED of recent tournament play, many of Europe’s leading lights are heading to the Austrian Open, the tournament that last year signalled the end of lockdown on the European Tour. It marked a return to winning ways for Scotland’s Marc Warren, who would go on to enjoy his best season in years, with a number of strong finishes.
Leading the field is Germany’s two-time major champion Martin Kaymer, who is looking for his first victory since the 2014 US Open. It is all too easy to forget that Kaymer topped the world rankings for eight weeks back in 2011. But his career has nosedived since those heady days.
It all went started to go seriously wrong for him in 2015 at the Abu Dhabi Championship. After opening with rounds of 64, 67 and 65, he led by six shots after 54 holes. After five holes of the final round he had extended that to 10 shots. But a series of mistakes saw him stumble to a 75 and he ended up finishing third behind Frenchman Gary Stal, who secured his first European Tour victory, and Rory McIlroy. Afterwards Kaymer admitted that he was in shock. “I don’t really know how to put my feelings in words. It was very, very surprising. It will take me a few days to reflect on what has happened. I don’t think that I played that badly. I started well and just hit two poor drives that led to two bad holes.”
In August of that year he failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs and lost his status for the following season after playing in just 13 events - two less than the minimum required for full PGA Tour membership. Sadly, it wasn’t a blip.
In 2019 it appeared that he might finally be on the way to ending his winless drought when he led the Memorial Tournament by two shots after 54 holes following rounds of 67, 68 and 66. He increased that lead to four on the front nine in the final round but faltered yet again on the back nine, including finding water at the 15th. In the end, he had to settle for a third place as Patrick Cantlay took the title.
And last year he had two further opportunities to win. He held a one-shot lead with two holes to play at the Handa UK Championship, but a bogey at the par-five 17th at The Belfry cost him a place in a playoff and he would eventually finished in a tie for third. The next week he was again in contention but this time came up one short at the Andalucia Masters as John Catlin won.
His game is agonisingly close and right now he would accept a victory anywhere. But he is going to have his work cut if he is end that drought in Austria.
Among those in the field are Thomas Detry, Nicolas Colsaerts, Justin Harding, Kurt Kitayama, Joost Luiten, Rasmus Hojgaard, Callum Shinkwin, Renato Paratore and Sam Horsfield.
Hojgaard is arguably the brightest young prospect on the European Tour. Already a two-time winner on the European Tour, the 20-year-old has the world at his feet and is a genuine contender for a place in Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup team. He will start the week in Austria as one of the favourites and will not be intimidated by anybody.
Rasmus Hojgaard. A superstar in the making
Martin Kaymer. What wouldn’t he give for a win? Any win
Thomas Detry. Hard to believe he is still looking for his first victory
Rasmus Hojgaard. Would be a huge asset to Europe’s Ryder Cup team
Martin Kaymer. There is still a world-class player in there somewhere
Thomas Detry. Unfulfilled potential
Sam Horsfield. If he’s in the mood, watch out...
Justin Harding. Riding high
Callum Shinkwin. Hits the ball a mile
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Tags: european tour