Wiesberger chasing second Lyoness title
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2014 The Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity | Preview | 04 Jun 2014
Bernd Wiesberger is aiming for a double celebration this week as he goes in search of a second win in the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity, and a place in next week’s US Open Championship.
The Austrian delighted the home crowds at Diamond Country Club near Vienna two years ago, when he surged through the field on a dramatic final day with a scintillating round of 65 – which included six birdies on the back nine – to take the title by three shots from Ireland’s Shane Lowry and France’s Thomas Levet.
Twelve months ago, Wiesberger’s bid to become the first player to mount a successful defence of the title ended in disappointment, as he finished in a tie for 14th place behind Dutchman Joost Luiten.
But having skipped the Nordea Masters to ensure maximum freshness for the 16th edition of the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity, Wiesberger is hopeful of emulating his friend and mentor Markus Brier by winning the €1 million event for a second time this week.
“It’s always a very special feeling to play in front of your home crowd, so hopefully I can give the fans something to cheer about this week.
“I decided to change my preparation this year, because I wasn’t very happy with finishing 14th last year. So I didn’t play in the US Open qualifier after Wentworth, because I’ve never played very well at Walton Heath in the past, and I also decided to miss Sweden last week so that I could focus fully on this tournament.
“I will probably have to win this week to get into the US Open, but I’m not thinking about that at the minute. I just want to play well for the home fans, and try to make up for the disappointment of last year."
Joost Luiten, the defending champion this week, is one of the few players in this week’s line-up who has a start at next week’s US Open. As the defending champion he will start the favourite but his recent form provides him with plenty of credentials also. He was 4th in Spain recently and 12th at the BMW PGA Championship.
Luiten also finished 3rd in this event the previous time he played in 2011 so the stars appear to be aligning for the Dutchman on the eve of his departure for the US.
“Once I get on the course I’ll forget all about the fact that I won here last year, and just treat the tournament like any other week. It’s obviously great that I have a good record here, but just because I won last year doesn’t mean I’m the favourite to win again. It’s very difficult to win any tournament on The European Tour, let alone the same one two years running. But I’ll certainly be giving it my best shot this week.
“I actually didn’t feel like I played my best golf in Spain and at Wentworth, but I finished fourth and 12th so I scored really well. I wasn’t happy with my final round at Wentworth because I had a good chance to finish in the top ten or even top five there, but that can happen. Overall I’ve got to be happy with my form this season, so hopefully that can continues here this week.”
Luiten is looking to become the first player to successfully defend the title, as well as becoming the first Dutch player to win the same event in back-to-back years.
Miguel Angel Jiménez will effectively be playing a home game after recently moving to Vienna. Having won the Open de España in May, he will attempt to win his 22nd European Tour title. Should he win, Austria would be the 14th different destination in which he has triumphed.
Jimenez’s recent form has been more than good enough to contend and win this event. His 4th place finish at the Masters, his win on the Champions Tour and his win in Spain all point to him having success in the first time he plays this event as a resident of Vienna.
Another factor working in Jimenez’s favour is that he has a good record in the event, not always at this course admittedly but he has finished inside the top twenty in every start he has had in the event.
Jimenez will join Luiten at Pinehurst next week.
Australians in the tournament are Brett Rumford and Victorian Jack Wilson who has gained an invite to the event.
Wilson won the West Australian PGA Championship in 2013 as a trainee professional and then went on to push Adam Scott for a long period during the Australian PGA Championship before finishing 3rd at RACV Royal Pines and runner-up at the NSW PGA Championship behind Aron Price.
Wilson has struggled this year but he is clearly quite a talent and this is a great opportunity to gain more experience.