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European Tour: What to Watch For at the Lyoness Open

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Mikael Lundberg is the defending champion of the Lyoness Open.

The European Tour is in Austria this week for the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity. Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg will defend the title at the Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg.

With many of the European Tour’s top players competing in the USA or taking a week off in preparation for next week’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, this event provides the second tier pros on the circuit with a great opportunity to take a step up the ladder.

First contested on the European Tour in 1990, this event began life as, simply, the Austrian Open. Bernhard Langer was the inaugural champion at Gut Altentann G&CC.

Since 2010 the event has been hosted by the Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg. The Jeremy Pern-designed layout at the Diamond CC was opened for play in 2000 and is a testing track with water featured on nine of the 18 holes.

In last year’s tournament, Mikael Lundberg of Sweden produced a final round of 65 to tie home favourite Bernd Wiesberder through 72 holes. The Swede then went on to win at the first extra hole.

Four things to watch for at the Lyoness Open:

1. Bernd Wiesberger of Austria will start the week as a strong favourite. Not only will he enjoy great home support but he also loves this track – he was the champion back in 2012 and runner up last year. Wiesberger comes into this competition on the back of a tied second-place finish in the testing Irish Open at Royal County Down two weeks ago. He’ll go on to compete in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay next week and would love to go there with another win under his belt. In 2014 he became the first Austrian to compete in the U.S. Open when he teed it up at Pinehurst.

RELATED: Bernd Wiesberger Swing Analysis

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2. Defending champ Mikael Lundberg comes into this event flying under the radar. He has shown little form to speak of in the build up to this event, but the story was very similar last season. In 2014, the Swede went into this tournament with only €30,000 season’s earnings on the Race to Dubai; his best finish on the circuit a tie for 28th in the Open d’Espana. But he came out of the pack and claimed the victory in Austria. What chance of a repeat performance?

“I wish my game was in better shape but it was the same last year,” he said. “I didn’t play well, but then I won. Maybe it will click the same way this year.”

RELATED: The Story of Lundberg’s Victory in 2014

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3. There’s more money up for grabs this year. The tournament purse is up to €1,500,000 from €1,000,000. The winner will pocket €250,000, up from €166,660. That rise was announced in November last year when it was also confirmed that the Lyoness Open will remain a fixture on the European Tour until at least 2019.

4. Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain is long overdue for a victory, he hasn’t won on the European Tour since the Dubai Desert Classic of 2012, he’s also won this event in the past - 2009. He’s an extremely talented player but just hasn’t been able to put four good rounds together so far in 2015. His best performance of the year came just two weeks ago in the Irish Open at Royal County Down. In that event he finished tied for fourth, but only one shot out of the playoff. He could well take the win this week.

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