The European Tour is an increasingly global operation. That the European Tour hosts tournaments in far-flung corners of the world is a considerable strength of the organisation but it is also nice when it returns to Europe for the summer months. The Austrian Open is one of those tournaments in mainland Europe which plays an important role on the European Tour and for golf within the country.
The history of the Austrian Open starts in 1990 when it was first introduced onto the European Tour. Although it dropped off the main tour and onto the Challenge Tour between 1997 and 2006, it has subsequently returned to the European Tour where it continues to flourish. European golf fans have enjoyed the close finishes provided by the Austrian Open over the years while Austrian golf fans have cheered on an Austrian winner four times thanks to Markus Brier’s three wins (2002, 2004 and 2006) and Bernd Wiesberger’s victory in 2012.
|2021||Diamond Country Club||John Catlin|
|2020||Diamond Country Club||Marc Warren|
|2018||Diamond Country Club||Mikko Korhonen|
|2017||Diamond Country Club||Dylan Frittelli|
|2016||Diamond Country Club||Ashun Wu|
2021: John Catlin
Experience threatened to tell at the Diamond Country Club in 2021. Martin Kaymer and Alejandro Canizares are both multiple winners on the European Tour and got themselves into contention for the Austrian Golf Open. However, both men saw their chances of a first win for seven years end after scrappy starts to their final round which opened the door for John Catlin and Maximilian Kieffer.
After the first seven holes, it was very much Kieffer’s tournament to lose. He increased his lead over Catlin to four shots at that stage but the American never lost faith and battled back, applying the pressure on Kieffer from the group ahead. By the time Catlin carded a 65 which included seven birdies and zero bogeys it looked as though he had done enough to win as Kieffer found himself in trouble on his final hole. However, the German showed great technique and heart to make a par from a bunker which took the tournament to extra holes.
In the end, it was fatigue that ultimately proved decisive. On their fifth playing of the 18th hole, Kieffer made an error that looked to have its roots in sheer weariness which allowed Catlin to win the tournament, his third European Tour win since September 2020.
2020: Marc Warren
Making it onto the European Tour is difficult enough. It’s another thing to win multiple times on the Tour and then another thing again to battle back after a steady decline as Marc Warren did when winning the 2020 Austrian Open. This was not the most prestigious win of Warren’s career (hosting was split on the European and Challenge Tour) but it was arguably the most important.
The Scotsman has rarely made it easy for himself and victory at Diamond Country Club required a typically dogged display. Things were tough enough given that this was the first European Tour event after the enforced shutdown and then got even tougher as Warren was forced to carry his own bag after his caddie tested positive for the very illness that shut the sport down in the first place!
Speaking after the event, Warren said that he felt as though everything had come together for him and that he was actually happy with the unscheduled pause in golf. Taking three months away from the grind of trying to work on his game while playing for his living allowed him the time he needed to return to something approaching his best and that was enough for him to see off the chasing pack and win the Austrian Open by a single shot.
2018: Mikko Korhonen
The European Tour has been making a real effort to innovate and keep improving their product by introducing new tournaments and new formats. The 2018 edition of the Austrian Open, which was titled the Shot Clock Masters, was one such innovation. As the name suggests, the European Tour introduced a shot clock for every shot of the tournament in a bid to speed up play although only four players were given a one-stroke penalty for exceeding their allotted time.
Mikko Korhonen was the man who adapted best to the new, faster format to earn his first European Tour win in his 146th start. As well as showing a lot of patience in terms of his career to break his duck, Korhonen also needed patience during the tournament itself. The final round was paused by two weather delays but he was able to use all of his experience to remain unflustered and do what was required to win by six strokes from Connor Syme with four players a further stroke behind.
It was a little ironic that the statistically strongest part of Korhonen’s game was his play off the tee as he had more time to think about and execute his strategy with his opening shot. The plans that he came up with alongside his caddie clearly resulted in the right approach for Diamond Country Club as the Finn was the only man to break 70 shots in all four rounds, building on his second-place finish 12 months earlier.
2017: Dylan Frittelli
The last time that the Austrian Open was named the Lyoness Open for sponsorship reasons was 2017. The removal of Lyoness was a good move in the eyes of many who were not fans of the ‘multi-level marketing’ company but there was something fitting about Lyoness sponsoring a tournament won by Dylan Frittelli. After all, the South African knows all about the different levels a player has to ascend in their journey to the top of professional golf.
It all started for Frittelli when learning how to play golf in Johannesburg before having increasing levels of success in the junior, amateur and then professional ranks. After turning pro, Frittelli had to pay his dues on the minor tours. Indeed, his first Challenge Tour win came in Austria, just as his first European Tour win did.
The most pleasing element of Frittelli’s week in Austria was that he got better as the tournament went on. He shot respectable rounds of 70 and 71 on Thursday and Friday and then really turned it on at the weekend with rounds of 68 and 67 to finish just one shot ahead of David Horsey, Mikko Korhonen and Jbe’ Krurger who all tied for second place.
2016: Ashun Wu
The Austrian Open has provided some thrilling finishes over the years. That was very much the case in 2016 when any number of players were in with a real chance of winning at the Diamond Country Club on Sunday. In the end, it was Wu Ashun who earned a single stroke victory over Adrian Otaegui, who was one stroke ahead of Richard McEvoy, who was one stroke ahead of James Morrison… who was one stroke ahead of Zander Lombard in a top 10 that included 10 different nationalities.
This was an important win for Ashun who improved his official world ranking by almost 100 places. The former world 222 earned only his second win on the European Tour, the first being in his home country at the 2015 Volvo China Open. Ashun was the first Chinese golfer to win the Austrian Open (which was still known as the Lyoness Open) and, impressively, it came on his tournament debut and first look at Diamond Country Club. He also became the first Chinese player to win multiple European Tour events thanks to some eye-catching stats including an average driving distance north of 300 yards.