The European Open was founded in 1978 and immediately became a European Tour event. For much of its history, the tournament toured around some of the finest courses in the United Kingdom such as Walton Heath, Sunningdale and East Sussex National. It then found a longer-term home at the K Club (1995 – 2007) before falling off the schedule after two years in London.
It wasn’t until 2015 that the European Open returned, this time in Germany. The new look, Porsche-backed tournament immediately attracted some big names from European golf before and soon saw the odd PGA Tour star make the trip over from America. It is now a very well thought of event which has a habit of producing thrilling finishes.
2023: Tom McKibbin
The 2023 edition of this tournament took place in Winsen, Germany, and represented a landmark moment for young Northern Irishman Tom McKibbin. Despite a valiant effort from the German players, cheered on by a raucous crowd, it was the 20-year-old – hailing from the same Holywood Club as Rory McIlroy - who came home the strongest. Touted as a player to watch ever since turning professional in 2021, this was the first DP World Tour success for McKibbin, who finished two clear of his nearest pursuer on nine under and thus became the first player from Northern Ireland to lift the trophy since Darren Clarke back in 2001.
McKibbin opened with a solid 72 to sit three adrift of first-round leaders Max Kieffer and Simon Forrström. A second-day score of 69 then saw that deficit reduced to one, with Kieffer the man out in front on his own. By the end of Saturday, this was a truly wide-open affair, with McKibbin, John Axelson, Alexander Bjork, Julien Guerrier, and Jordan Smith all locked together on six under par at the top of the leaderboard.
McKibbin was the man to make an early charge for the title, picking up birdies at the fourth, seventh and ninth holes. Kieffer was, however, keeping pace, going four under through 11, only to lose momentum with back-to-back bogeys at the 13th and 14th. Taking the outright lead with a birdie at the 15th, McKibbin followed up with back-to-back pars, before finishing in style with a sublime five iron leading to a birdie on the 18th.
McKibbin picked up €315,657.70 for his efforts and moved up to 23rd in the Race to Dubai Standings. The German duo of Marcel Siem and Max Kiefer were joined by Julien Guerrier of France in a three-way tie for second. Elsewhere at the event, Romain Langasque and Simon Forrström, who finished tied 10th and tied 33rd respectively, earned enough points to claim a spot in the US Open via the DP World Tour US Open Qualification series.
2022: Kalle Samooja
Kalle Samooja had been threatening to win his first DP World Tour event for some time before this tournament. Generally, the Finn has been let down by his putting so it was somewhat of a surprise that his breakthrough came on a week where he actually lost strokes to the field on the greens.
Fortunately for Samooja, the rest of his game was in tip-top shape from pretty much his first shot to his last. He was the very best in the field from tee to green, with most of that good work coming from his approach play. That was always likely to be key at Green Eagles. The length of the Green Course was the big story before the tournament but it was the way that the course firmed up over the week that had the biggest impact on the outcome. Samooja’s approach play was all the more impressive given the difficulty that so many of his competitors were having just holding the greens, making his incredible final round of 64 to overturn a seven-shot deficit all the more impressive.
Samooja’s immediate thoughts after the tournament were less about the challenge of the week or even his run through the field and more about his path to this defining moment. “It’s truly special,” said an emotional Samooja to the TV cameras afterwards. “It’s been a long journey, been close a few times.”
2021: Marcus Armitage
Like all golf fans, Marcus Armitage watched some emotional post-tournament interviews in the weeks before the 2021 Porsche European Open. Unlike the rest of us watching Richard Bland, Garrick Higgo, Bernd Wiesberger and others talk about what their wins meant to them, Armitage was able to draw inspiration from those who came before him and complete an emotionally charged victory of his own at the 2021 Porsche European Open.
Armitage has always been candid about his struggles on and off the golf course and laid bare the raw emotion of his win at Green Eagle Golf Courses, saying, “20 years ago I lost my mum and I’ve dreamt about this since that day, being a winner, and you have days where you think it might not happen but I just stuck at it.”
Armitage’s outpouring of emotion was understandable as he had to keep a lid on things during the round itself as he had a tough job on his hands clawing back four shots from the overnight leaders Matthew Southgate and Maverick Antcliff. He managed that on a rare Monday finish courtesy of some stunning golf that was worthy of beating such a strong field at such as high-class venue.
The 2020 tournament was cancelled.
2019: Paul Casey
Paul Casey is by no means unique in being a big name European golfer who bases himself in America. Casey went a step further than many though by relinquishing his European Tour membership for a number of years before returning in order to play in the 2018 Ryder Cup. He earned his place in that team via a captain’s pick despite not winning on the European Tour since 2015 but he ended that run in the 2019 European Open.
Casey wrestled the title from the grasp of Robert MacIntyre and Bernd Ritthammer both of whom were one shot better off than the Englishman at the start of the final round. For a player who has had his troubles closing tournaments out, the nature of Casey’s final 18 holes which included six birdies and no dropped shots was highly impressive. That -6 total took him to -14 for the tournament and neither of the 54-hole joint leaders nor Matthias Schwab could find that one extra shot to save which would have forced Casey into a playoff.
Second place for Ritthammer was a huge result for the German as he wasn’t given much of a hope before the tournament commenced. Second place was rather less of a surprise for MacIntyre who had already finished as runner up twice previously in the season.
2018: Richard McEvoy
The European Tour is an incredibly competitive environment. So much so that keeping your head above water by earning a tour card year after year is a huge undertaking. The history of the Tour is full of players who have plugged on, carving out a decent living for themselves without winning but each of them to a man would trade it all for one win. That is the context of Richard McEvoy’s win at the 2018 European Open.
Any win would have been the highlight of the 39 year old’s career but this was more than just any win. McEvoy, ranked outside the top 250 players in the world, finished atop a leaderboard that contained Paul Casey, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau among others.
McEvoy was feeling very good about his game heading into the trip to Germany as it came just days after he earned his third win on the Challenge Tour in France. He took all of the positivity from that event with some excellent golf on the first three days of the European Open before making the most of his experience to finish his final round win a +1 round of 73 which could have easily got away from him. This victory brought a very welcome cheque of £300,000 and the knowledge that McEvoy would not have to make a 13th trip to Qualifying School for at least the next two years.
2017: Jordan Smith
The 2017 edition of the European Open moved from Bad Griesbach in the south of Germany to the north of the country and Green Eagle Golf Courses. To be specific, the North Course at the top-class venue hosted and it was Jordan Smith who best learned what that 7,544-yard layout required to secure his maiden European Tour win.
This was a very special win for the 24 year old as it marked his arrival on the big stage. Many golf fans had already heard of Smith after he topped the standings on the EuroPro Tour and Challenge Tour in consecutive seasons but success in the big leagues is never guaranteed so Smith was understandably delighted to make his breakthrough in his first season as a European Tour player.
Smith played some very good golf but, as is often the case, he did have to rely on a bit of luck along the way. That came in the first hole of his playoff with Alex Levy after the two men finished level on -13. Levy had just three feet to complete a successful defence of the European Open but could not convert as Smith watched on. Smith then gathered himself to go again and got the job done on the second trip up the 18th hole.