Wood a Diamond Pick on Open Courses
Another national open for the European Tour this week as it moves from Sweden to Austria for the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity. The event returned to the European Tour in 2006 and for the first four years was held at the Fontana GC before moving to it's current venue, the Diamond CC in 2010. Winner last year was Mikael Lundberg who beat home favourite, and 2012 Champion, Bernd Wiesberger in a playoff. Staying an hour ahead of the UK and so tee off times will be around 6am UK time on the 11th June.
The Course & Past Winners
The Diamond CC is a European Tour Destination situated in the Lower Austrian countryside just west of Vienna and not too far from the Danube. This year it will play 7,417 yards, which is slightly shorter than last year. Also for the second year the front & back nines have been reversed, so the 18th is now a par 3.
The course is quite open with trees only coming into effect on a few holes or some really wayward shots. However there is plenty of water with a large lake across the middle of the course and several smaller ponds also coming into play. Indeed 7 holes have their green either by the side of the lake or protruding into it, plus the par 3 18th is played over another lake with the banks no doubt trimmed to pick up any misjudged shots.
The recent winners have been:
||LARA José Manuel
Mixed scoring seeming to be quite easy with a couple of wins at -17 and a -19, whilst a couple at -12 under including last year.
As Austrian No. 1 it's probably no surprise to see Bernd Wiesberger
as the hot favourite for this event. One of just two to sit inside the top 100 in the World, at 37th, and at 5th in the Race to Dubai he's the only payer inside the top 20. He reached those rankings thanks to his early 2015 form where he was 6th, 3rd & 4th across the desert swing before a 2nd in Malaysia. Then headed across to the US where he struggled, a missed cuts at the Northern Trust Open and Bay Hill with 31st at the WGC Cadillac Championship in between. At The Masters he did well with 22nd, 33rd at New Orleans before being slightly unlucky at the Matchplay losing twice on the 19th green, but did beat Sergio. Then had a missed cut at The Players and back in Europe at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. However returned to form last time out in Ireland when he lost in a playoff to Soren Kjeldsen. As well as being the top ranked player here he also has the best record, winning in 2012 and lost a playoff last year, 14th in 2013 is his worst finish and he was 5th in 2011 on his debut. He has the most under par rounds with 15, 5 more than anyone else, and at 94% is only beaten by a couple with 4 from 4 on their only visit. Whilst his average round of 69.06 is also 3rd best, again only beaten by a couple who have just the one appearance.
The other player ranked inside the top 100 in the World is Richie Ramsay
who is 76th. I noted at the Trophee Hassan II he had a good record there but ignored him as in his five events in 2015 prior to it he had four missed cuts and a withdrawal, typically he went on to win and since then has been on a good run of form with 11th & 7th in the two events in China, 15th in the Open de Espana, did miss the cut at Wentworth before bouncing back with 10th in the Irish Open. Makes his debut here.
As the course is quite open then the fact Chris Wood
has a good record on links courses may help here. He's been 3rd & 5th in The Open in the past and was 16th in his last outing at the Irish Open at Royal County Down. He had been 4th at Wentworth the week before, 49th in Spain, 31st & 29th in China and also went well in Morocco finishing in 3rd behind Ramsay. Played here in 2012 and finished 12th with all 4 rounds under par and an average round of 69.50 which is 4th best.
Two young guns and an experienced player finished tied 17th here last year. For Anthony Wall
(pictured in white) it was his first visit here, Tyrrell Hatton
it was his second having been 19th in 2013, and Romain Wattel
made it three top twenty's in his four visits here having missed the cut in 2011, 18th in 2012 and 3rd in 2013. Hatton has the best average of the three at 70.75, Wattel at 70.86 but that improves to 70.00 over the last three years, and Wall at 71.25. Wattel leads the 3 with 64% (9/14) of rounds under par compared which is 14th best to 50% for the other two 23rd best in the field.
Hatton & Wall both went well in Ireland with 4th & 10th respectively, which in both cases was an improvement, Hatton has missed the cut in Spain and 46th at Wentworth, had been 15th & 8th in the two events in China. Whilst Wall missed the cut in Spain and also in Shenzhen, but has been going well before that with 11th, 14th & 2nd at the Joburg Open. For Wattel he split Ramsay & Wood in Morocco, 34th & 8th in China but has then dropped with 49th in Spain, 68th at Wentworth and 53rd in Ireland.
Two guys have had top ten's in the last two years, with Eduardo De La Riva
finishing 7th in the last two years to add to his 40th in 2012, Lee Slattery
was just behind in 2013 in 9th, and just ahead last year in 4th, with 54th in 2011 his other visit. The better scoring in 2012 means De La Riva has the better average round at 70.17 compared to 70.58, but Slattery has the better percentage of rounds under par with 75% (9/12) which is 8th best compared to De La Riva at 58% (7/12) which is 17th. As for their current form well missed cuts seem to be the order of the day in 2015. After a 3rd in the years opener in South Africa he missed 7 of his next 9 cuts, but has improved with 43rd in Ireland and 7th last week in Sweden. De La Riva was 3rd in the Africa Open before 46th at the Tshwane Open, 34th in Morocco, 51st in Mauritius and then 9th in his home Open, but has then missed his last two cuts in Ireland and Sweden.
The other player with multiple top ten's here is Simon Wakefield
who lost in the playoff in 2011, was 19th in 2013 and 9th last year. One of just 6 to average under 70, at 69.92 and has 10 under par rounds at 83% which is 5th best in the field. He's mainly been playing on the Challenge Tour this year but not with much success having a best of 30th in the Czech Republic a couple of weeks ago. That was the culmination of an improving run having had 3 missed cuts, 41st, 43rd, 35th & then the 30th, which he followed with 60th last week in Sweden at the Nordea Masters.
Last week I mentioned Jens Fahbring who headed to the Nordea Masters off the back of a win on the Challenge Tour, well this week it is the turn of American Daniel Im
who was successful at the Swiss Challenge. He hadn't been too spectacular before that with missed cuts in Joburg on this tour and Madrid on the Challenge Tour, then a slightly inconsistent run of 17th, 56th, 11th 22nd and then the win. Has played here for the last two years and missed the cut in 2013 after an opening 78, but was far better last year when a final round 64 moved him up to 7th. Missing the cut and tougher conditions last year means he only averages 71.33 which is 28th best and another with 50% (3/6) rounds under par.
It's tough not to look much further than the favourite here, a local living just a couple of hours away, the best record here he with a win & playoff loss, no worse than 14th. The top ranked player in the field and arriving off his second runner up finish of the year. I'm not quite sure I trust the likes of Wattel & Hatton, especially at fairly low odds of around 20-25/1; Wall is also fairly interesting but not great form before his last outing. Ramsay has now hit some form but does make his debut here and Wood is perhaps the biggest challenger to Wiesberger.
Not sure if Chris Wood
has qualified for the US Open next week but he was one of my outside thoughts if he has, but in case he hasn't I will select him over Wiesberger now. Good results in his last two events with 4th & 16th, likes open and links type courses and was 12th in his only appearance here.