2006: PGA European Tour

Oberwaltersdorf, Austria

It would seem winning the same tournament twice would give the victor some advantage the next time he enters. Apparently, British oddsmakers didn’t think so when they released the betting lines for the PGA European Tour’s BA-CA Golf Open.

Markus Brier, who won the tournament in 2004 and 2002 when it was a European Challenge Tour event, wasn’t very high on any of the oddsmakers’ lists.

Many had Brier at 40-1 to win June 11 at Fontana Golf Club.

Apparently, the fact that Brier is a member at Fontana was overlooked. Overlooked by everyone except one British newspaper.

The staff tipster at The Guardian realized an opportunity in the numbers, and wasted no time in appointing it his bet of the week.

And anyone who followed the advice was certainly happier after the final round.

Brier, who earned his 2006 playing privileges by finishing fourth last year at European Tour Q-School, turned in a solid wire-to-wire performance to capture his first European Tour title. He also became the first Austrian to win on the European Tour circuit.

Brier’s 18-under 266 was three shots better than Denmark’s Soren Hansen and four better than England’s Simon Dyson.

And although Brier was impressed with the triumph, he could think of no one more deserving of the title.

“To make history as the first Austrian to win on the European Tour is fantastic,” Brier said. “I am proud to have done it. It took me seven years, but I was the first Austrian on the European Tour so it should be me who wins first. And to do it here on my home track is just unbelievable.”

Brier’s golf was spectacular from Round 1, and soared after the par-3 11th hole. Brier, 37, recorded an ace from 158 yards, moving him to 3 under and earning him a car.

“I saw the hole-in-one all the way – there was a little drizzle but it was a perfect shot,” Brier said. “The wind was just off the left and I just drew it in and it bounced 3 feet from the hole and rolled in.”

The car Brier won must have gotten his engine running too, because after the ace, his play took off. After a birdie at 18, he finished the first round with a 6-under 65.

Brier, a former German Amateur Open champion (1995) and Swiss Amateur Open champion (1994), turned in three more rounds in the 60s for the victory.

Survival of the fittest: Simon Dyson’s third-place finish moved him to 21st in the Order of Merit, a position he attained mostly from winning the Indonesian Open in March – and a new fitness regime.

“I have been dedicating myself more to my game and getting fit,” Dyson said. “I was playing well before Indonesia, but my fitness has made a hell of a difference.

“It used to be the case where coming down the last four or five holes I would be tired and that is where I dropped my shots. Now I am coming down the last hole like it’s my fourth or fifth – which is

a nice feeling.

“I should have thought about it a long time before now, but better late than never.”

In the final round of the BA-CA Golf Open, Dyson could only manage one birdie and one bogey in his even-par 71.

Short shots: Colin Montgomerie was 3 under after four holes in Round 4 and was in contention for the lead. That was until he went 7-over on a stretch of six holes (Nos. 11-16). Montgomerie’s 75 would drop him into a tie for 13th. . . . Soren Hansen, who hasn’t won since the 2002 Irish Open, also gave way to Brier by bogeying the 16th. . . . Richard Green and Gregory Havret shot final-round 63s to tie for low round of the tournament. Green finished fourth, while Havret tied for 11th. . . . Michael Campbell has confirmed he will defend his title at the 2006 HSBC World Match Play Championship Sept. 14-17 at Wentworth Club in England.

– Alistair Tait and wire reports

On the tee

Next up: Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, June 22-25, The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland. Defending champion: Adam Scott.

The buzz: Adam Scott captured the title over some notable players last year, including Retief Goosen, Michael Campbell and Colin Montgomerie. Another strong field is expected this year.

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