The Austrian Open is now finally underway at Diamond Country Club, in Atzenbrugg, Austria.

Following a four month delay due to the Corona virus outbreak, the European Tour resumed on Thursday, at the Australian Open. On the first day, Dutch former winner, Joost Luiten, shot a 7-under 65, taking the lead. Diamond Country Club has been kind to Luiten before – he triumphed there in 2013, and he’s been well within the top ten the last four times he’s played there.

Scotmen Craig Howie and Marc Warren tied for second place on day 1, each shooting 66s.

For an up-to-date Leaderboard as the tournament progresses, you can view the European Tour website here.

The Players

The top seeds on day one were Joost Luiten, Adri Arnaus, and Thomas Detry. As we already know, Luiten has won here before, whereas Detry failed to make the cut three years ago, and Arnaus is playing his course debut. Neither Arnaus nor Detry have won on the European tour – yet!

At the time of writing though, it is in fact 56 year old Miguel Jiménez who tops the leaderboard, having carded his lowest round on the European Tour for two years. 7 under par 65 means he now has a two-stroke lead going into the third round. In the first round he played a 68, but out of his first four holes on day 2, three were birdies.

“I’m playing very well. It feels great. Four months without competing, it’s nice getting back into a tournament and feeling the tension again. I’m hitting it well and making some putts, not too many bogeys – that’s the key. I enjoyed myself. My irons were working very well.”

Miguel Jiménez

This week will see Jiménez in his 705th European Tour appearance. If he goes on to win, he will break the record to be the oldest winner in Tour history – again! He has already held the record 4 times, most recently breaking it in 2014 at the Open de Espana, when he was 50 years and 133 days old.

The Course

The Diamond Country Club boasts two courses: The Diamond, and the Country. The Diamond course is known for being on of the country’s best. It was designed by Englishman Jeremy Pern, and opened in 2002. It has been home to the Austrian Open for the last ten years. The course features some unusual structures, as it is built on an industrial site that was destroyed, and then abandoned, in World War 2.

Structures remain from World War 2. Images © Jeremy Pern

The course features a lot of water, and it’s a big challenge. Nine of the holes feature some sort of water hazard, some with water threatening both tee and approach shots! It’s near to the Danube, and had to be re-worked ten years after opening when the water table changed to prevent frequent flooding. In fact, the owner at the time was helped by Miguel Jiménez to redesign the course, which looks like it could be working in his favour. More ditches and small lakes were added, which of course now pose even more of a challenge!

Also of interest, in 2018 the Shot Clock Masters was the first tour in the professional game to use a shot clock on each and every shot. This combatted slow play on the European Tour, giving penalties to players on every shot they were too slow. Unsurprisingly, round times were recorded as being significanlty below average!

What’s next?

Following the Austrian Open will be the Euram Bank Open, then six weeks of play across the United Kingdom.