Lyoness Open preview

The European Tour heads to Austria this week for the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity. England's Kenneth Ferrie defends the title around the Diamond Country Club at Atzenbrugg near Vienna.

Kenneth Ferrie defends Austrian Open

Lowdown: The European Tour heads to Austria this week for the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity. England's Kenneth Ferrie defends the title around the Diamond Country Club at Atzenbrugg near Vienna.

Formerly known as the Austrian Open, this will be the 22nd running of the event. The tournament was first contested in 1990 when Bernhard Langer took the title. Since then, Ronan Rafferty, Paul McGinley, Richard Green and Jeev Milkha Singh have all been winners.

Last season Kenneth Ferrie came through a playoff against fellow Englishman Simon Wakefield. It was Ferrie's first European Tour victory for six years.

Ferrie will return to the Diamond Country Club to defend the title but he'll face strong opposition from an impressive field. France's Thomas Levet is looking to continue his recent comeback after a long injury-enforced layoff. The Frenchman posted a top-five finish in the Scottish Open and was inspired by commentating on the Open Championship at Lytham.

"Castle Stuart got me mentally right, and it was good to get four good rounds under my belt as I have not had many of those," he said. "And watching all the players at The Open also teaches you a lot. Not only so you see how patient the top players are, but you also learn you miss the game."

Other star names on the start sheet this week include Spain's Pablo Larrazabal, Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark and Sweden's Peter Hedblom.

Bernd Wiesberger and Markus Brier will be home favourites. Wiesberger is currently 34th on the Race to Dubai after winning the Ballantine's Championship in April. Brier is not enjoying the best of seasons but he's a three-time Austrian Open winner.

Opened for play in 2002, the course at Diamond Country Club took over as host venue for the Austrian Open in 2010. It's an interesting Jeremy Pern design featuring water hazards on nine of the 18 holes.

This event has moved in the schedule this year. Last season it was contested in September. It's also, unusually, being played from Wednesday to Saturday.

Venue: Diamond Country Club, Atzenbrugg, Austria Date: Jul 25-28 Course stats: par 72, 7,386 yards Purse: €1,000,000 Defending Champion: Kenneth Ferrie (-12)

TV Coverage: Weds 25 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10am Thurs 26 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10am Friday 27 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12pm Saturday 28 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 12pm

Player Watch: Thorbjorn Olesen - The Dane showed superb form through three rounds at Royal Lytham. Although he faded somewhat on Sunday, he still finished inside the top-10. That result will give the 22-year-old great confidence. He's already a winner this year (Sicilian Open) and will look to climb the money list further with a good result here.

Pablo Larrazabal - The flamboyant Spaniard is capable of running away from stellar fields if he can find his best game. He made the cut at Lytham and has produced a couple of solid performances this year.

Bernd Wiesberger - The 26-year-old Austrian is already a winner in 2012. He was also twice a runner-up last season. He'll surely raise his game in front of the home fans.

Key holes: 11th and 15th. Par 3s of 202 and 159 yards but both play to island greens and anything straying off line at either hole could end in a watery grave.

Where next? PGA Tour - RBC Canadian Open preview

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?