Lyoness Open: All about the in-play in Austria

Gaganjeet Bhullar - The Punter's sole selection in Austria
Gaganjeet Bhullar - The Punter's sole selection in Austria

Our man takes a detailed look at this week's European Tour action in Austria where home favourite, Bernd Wiesberger, is a warm favourite to win the title for a second time. Read our man's detailed preview here...

“Three men traded at odds-on in round four last year and the same thing happened in 2015 and in 2014 so this looks like a great place to lay the contenders on Sunday.”

Tournament History

Bernhard Langer won the first edition of the Lyoness Open (formally the Austrian Open) in 1990 but after just seven editions the tournament was relegated to the Challenge Tour. The event was flagging and it wasn't even played in 2000 but then along came Austrian golfing legend, Markus Brier, whose popularity revitalised the tournament.

Brier won the event twice, in 2002 and 2004, and it was elevated back up to the European Tour in 2006 when Brier managed to win it for a third and final time. Brier has been invited to play this week and he'll be making his first European Tour appearance since August 2013. The Lyoness Open has been staged at the Diamond Country Club since 2010.


Venue

Diamond Golf Course, Atzenbrugg, Austria


Course Details

Par 72 - 7,458 yards
Stroke Index in 2016 - 72.90
The Jeremy Pern-designed Diamond Course opened in 2002.

The fairways are fairly flat and quite exposed and the small greens ran at around 11 on the stimpmeter in 2016. Water is in-play on nine of the 18 holes.

This will be the eighth year in-a-row that the Diamond Course has hosted the event. Prior to the 2014 renewal the course was lengthened and the two nines were switched - creating a course made up of three distinct thirds.

The course opens with a short par five, which last year ranked as the easiest hole on the course - averaging just 4.6. That's followed by a 200 yard-plus par three to an island green. Then the par five fourth - the second easiest hole on the course last year - is sandwiched between two straightforward par 4s before the first third is finished with another par three played to an island green.

Holes seven to 12 are all challenging par fours that all averaged over-par last year. Holes seven and eight ranked one and two in 2016 - averaging 4.3 and 4.26 - but once the players are through that middle section it gets a little easier.

Back-to-back par fives, at 15 and 16, offer up a chance to score and the par three finishing hole is fairly straightforward and the only really tricky hole on the way in is the par four 17th, which last year averaged 4.26.


Weather Forecast


TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 10.00 on Thursday


Last Five Winners

2016 - Ashun Wu -13
2015 - Chris Wood -15
2014 - Mikael Lundberg -12 (playoff)
2013 - Joost Luiten -17
2012 - Bernd Wiesberger -19


What Will it Take to Win The Lyoness Open?

Bernd Wiesberger hit the ball further than anyone else off the tee when he won here in 2012 but hitting it miles off the tee is certainly not crucial. Last year's winner, Ashun Wu, ranked a respectable 19th for Driving Distance but the two winners before him ranked only 61st and 51st for DD. The average DD ranking of the seven course winners to date is 29.7 whereas the average Driving Accuracy ranking is 15th and no winner has ranked any worse than 24th for DA, so accuracy appears of more importance than power off the tee.

The 2014 winner, Mikael Lundberg, ranked 20th for Greens In Regulation and Wiesberger ranked 11th in 2012 but the other five winners have ranked, in chronological order, eighth, fourth, first, sixth and sixth again so that's a key stat. Richard McEvoy, who finished third 12 months ago, hit more greens than anyone else.

Joost Luiten only ranked 31st for Scrambling but none of the other winners have ranked any worse than 11th and the first four home last year ranked sixth, second, fourth and fifth for that stat so hitting plenty of greens and getting it up-and-down when you do miss one is the key to success around here. Although a good performance with the putter always helps and five of the seven winners have had a Putting Average ranking of sixth or better. Wu ranked second 12 months ago.


Is There an Angle In?

With the US Open now looming large, this is a fairly weak field again (as it is most years given its position in the schedule) but it might make sense to concentrate on those that have already won on the European Tour. Wu had won the Volvo China Open 13 months before he won here last year and all seven previous course winners had already won at least once before on the ET.


Is There an Identikit Winner?

Wu was matched at a high 220.0219/1 before the off and the 2014 winner, Lundberg, was matched at in excess of 500.0499/1 so I wouldn't put anyone off a rank outsider (provided they've previously won - see above). Chris Wood was a well-backed 14/1 second-favourite in-between those two long-shots and the other five course winner's SPs ranged between around 25/1 and 66/1.


In-Play Tactics

The last four winners here have all been inside the top-ten after round one and within five strokes of the lead and all bar one winner (Kenneth Ferrie in 2011) have been inside the top-ten and within five strokes of the lead at halfway but it's not a great place to lead through 54 holes.

We've seen winners come from four, five and even six strokes adrift with a round to go and only one of the seven course winners to date (Joost Luiten in 2013) has been in front with a round to go.

Three men traded at odds-on in round four last year and the same thing happened in 2015 and in 2014 so this looks like a great place to lay the contenders on Sunday.


Market Leaders

The case for Bernd Wiesberger is a very obvious one. He's in fine fettle and he's already won the event and finished runner-up. His impressive enough form figures here read 5-1-14-2-MC-10 and I can see him easily equalling fellow Austrian, Marcus Brier's total of three wins.

He was arguably a bit disappointing at Wentworth, where he finished 30th but prior to that he'd won the Shenzhen international, finished fourth at the China Open and a very respectable 12th at the Players Championship. He's clearly the man to beat and odds of around 5/1 aren't excessively short now that the 2015 winner, Chris Wood, has withdrawn.

Joost Luiten's course form figures are even more impressive - reading 3-1-3-6. He led going in to round four when defending in 2014 and clearly loves the place but he's not been anywhere near his best in some time (hasn't had a top-ten finish since September) and that's a big concern given how short he is in the market.


Selection

The field isn't strong and I was quite tempted to play Wiesberger but after much deliberation I'm going to wait and concentrate my efforts in-play so I'm going to begin the week with just one selection, my each-way pick, Gaganjeet Bhullar.

The 29-year-old Indian has won seven times on the Asian Tour and he was second last time out in the Thailand Open. His form figures here read an uninspiring 39-45-55 but he led here at halfway on debut in 2011 so he has shown an aptitude for the venue.


Selection:
Gaganjeet Bhullar @ 210.0209/1


I'll be back later with my St. Jude Classic preview.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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