The Porsche European Open was first staged back in 1978, when Bobby Wadkins got the better of fellow American, Gill Morgan, and Scotland's Bernard Gallacher in a playoff at Walton Heath and the tournament was a nomadic ever-present on the DP World Tour until 2009 when it fell off the schedule.
It returned to the rota in 2015 and it's been played in Germany ever since. The first two editions were played at the Beckenbauer Course in Bad Griesbach but it switched to the Green Eagle Resort, just outside Hamburg, in 2017 and we're back there again this time around for the fifth time.
The tournament was staged in July in 2018 and September in 2019 so it's moved around a bit on the schedule. Having been staged a week after the Open Championship four years ago, the likes of Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, Bryson DeChambeau, Charl Schwartzel and Pat Perez all played in the event before returning to the States and Reed and Casey, who returned in 2019, were joined by Xander Schauffele and Matt Kuchar three years ago but the field won't be anywhere near as strong this time around.
The tournament was played at the same time 12 months ago (for the first time) but after the UK had been put on Germany's Covid 'red list', the tournament was reduced to a 54-hole event over three days.
The Porsche Nord Course, Green Eagle Golf Resort, Hamburg, Germany.
Par 72, 7,603 yards
Stroke Index in 2021 - 74.52
Formally known as the North Course, and now known as the Porsche Nord Course, this week's host track is extremely long, measuring in excess of 7,800 yards but as it did in 2021, it will play to 'only' 7,603 yards again this time around (compared to 7,583 in 2018) but with as many as four teeing areas on each hole, there's plenty of flexibility with regards to set up and we're in the dark to a certain extent.
In addition to the last four renewals of this event, the Porsche Nord Course was also used on the Challenge Tour in 2010 for the ECCO Tour Championship, which was won by the then amateur, Andreas Harto, in eight-under-par.
It's reputed to be one of the ten longest courses in the world and it's described as the most difficult golf course in Germany.
The Porsche Nord Course is a flat parkland course with wide fairways but it has water in-play to varying degrees on every hole bar one. The greens are laid to a mixture of Bentgrass and Poa Annua and they're large with big undulations.
The flyover below gives a good feel for the terrain and I've looked at the layout in more detail in the In-Play Tactics section below.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 12:00 (UK time) on Thursday.
Last Four Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2021 - Marcus Armitage - (54 holes) 120.0119/1
2020 - Event Cancelled
2019 - Paul Casey -14 10.09/1
2018 - Richard McEvoy -11 170.0169/1
2017 - Jordan Smith -13 (playoff) 48.047/1
What Will it Take to Win the Porsche European Open?
Green Eagle is monstrously long with five par fives and the 2017 winner here, Jordan Smith, ranked second for Driving Distance but the 2018 stats suggested it was far from a bomber's paradise and the 2019 and 2021 results have confirmed it.
The 2018 winner, Richard McEvoy, ranked 62nd for DD and the two men to finish alongside John Allen in second, Christofer Blomstrand and Renato Paratore, ranked 50th and 58th.
The 2019 winner, Paul Casey, ranked 12th for Driving Distance but the next four on the leaderboard only ranked 23rd, 31st, 48th and 19th, last year's top-five ranked 41st, 13th, 31st, 25th and 39th and Driving Accuracy appears far more important than distance.
The first five home three years ago ranked eighth, fourth, tenth, 17th and second for D.A and the four players tied for second behind Armitage, who ranked 34th for DA, ranked first, second, ninth and 15th for DA.
Yes, it's a long course on paper but they fiddle with the yardage during the tournament and it's far from a bombers' paradise.
The top two in the Greens In Regulation rankings finished tied for second and the top three in the GIR rankings three years ago finished fifth, first and second and Romain Wattel, who finished sixth, ranked fifth for GIR. There's water in-play all over the track so trouble awaits and finding fairways is key.
Will another English outsider take the title?
All four editions staged at Green Eagle have been won by an Englishman and three of the four have been outsiders winning their first titles on the DP World Tour.
Paul Casey needs no introduction, but Jordan Smith, Richard McEvoy and Marcus Armitage all won their first DP World Tour titles here and all three are still in search of their second successes.
Winner's Position and Exchange Price Pre-Final Round
2021- Marcus Armitage - tied 11th, trailing by four 70.069/1
2020 - Event Cancelled
2019 - Paul Casey solo 3rd - trailing by one 3.1511/5
2018 - Richard McEvoy - tied for the lead 7.87/1
2017 - Jordan Smith - led by two 3.1511/5
In the first four tournaments staged here, every winner was within four of the lead after the opening round and the three winners of this event were all inside the top-four at halfway. Harto sat tied for seventh at halfway in the 2010 ECCO Tour Championship here on the Challenge Tour but he only tailed by two.
The first three course winners were all leading with a round to go and Casey only trailed by a stroke in 2019 so Armitage's off the pace success 12 months ago went against the grain.
As highlighted in yesterday's Debrief, we witnessed plenty of drama at the Dutch Open on Sunday when Ryan Fox traded at a low of 1.021/50 before getting beat in extra time and we've witnessed plenty of drama here in the past too...
Alex Levy had looked like making a successful title defence when he led by a stroke playing the final hole in 2017 but he couldn't match Jordan Smith's birdie at the par five 18th and the event went into extra time. Smith failed to make birdie again and more than £17K was matched on Levy at 1.011/100 as he stood over a tiddler for the title but then this happened.
A shell-shocked Levy couldn't match Smith's birdie four at the second extra hole and the title went the way of the Englishman.
Bryson DeChambeau, who was tied for the lead with a round to go, completely capitulated in 2018. His price dipped to 1.232/9 when he led by a stroke with four to play but he lost the plot completely after that and eventually finished tied for 13th and although he eventually got the job done, Paul Casey had a little wobble in 2019, before holing a 35 footer on the 16th hole on Sunday to settle the nerves.
With water in play on all but one hole, this is a track that creates drama and taking the leaders on if they go long odds-on on Sunday may pay dividends yet again.
Tommy Fleetwood is the standout name in the field and the understandable favourite but he's playing here for the first time and he hasn't won since 2019.
The Englishman arrives in Germany in form though, with a recent 14th at the US Masters and a top-five finish in the US PGA Championship a fortnight ago, he'll find this an easier test than last week's Charles Schwab Challenge on the PGA Tour, where he finished 35th.
Although he missed the cut at the British Masters, with two third placed finishes before his hiccup at the Belfry (in Qatar and Spain) and a sixth in Belgium and a third last week in the Dutch Open after it, it looks like only a matter of time before the likable Polish player, Adrian Meronk, gets off the mark on the DP World Tour.
His game is in tip-top order, but he finished only 45th 12 months ago on debut with rounds of 75, 72 and 72 and I'm happy to swerve him.
Robert MacIntyre and Jordan Smith are next up, and both have very obvious course form. On his only visit, MacIntyre finished second in 2019 and since winning here in 2017 Smith has put up only ordinary figures reading 64-MC-11. Neither man is in sparkling form and I'm happy to leave both out.
We've only got Strokes Gained figures for the last two editions at Green Eagle and the two stats to come to the fore were SG Tee-to-Green and SG Approach, so I was happy to have a small bet on Rasmus Hojgaard who's ranked highly for both in each of his last two starts.
With a 16th place finish at the British Masters and a top-ten at the Dutch Open last week, the young Dane is creeping into form, and he may just be ready to go in again and claim his fourth DP World Tour title. The 29.028/1 is fair.
And for my only other pick before the off, I've followed Matt Cooper in with Pablo Larrazabal who looks a very fair price on the exchange at 42.041/1.
Rasmus Hojgaard @ 29.028/1
Pablo Larrazabal @ 42.041/1
I'll be back later with my Memorial Tournament preview.
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