Paul Casey will bid to defend his Porsche European Open title this week as he returns to Hamburg for the first time since his triumph two years ago.
The Englishman has been forced to wait for his title defence at Green Eagle Golf Courses after last year’s tournament was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however the 15-time European Tour winner returns to the formidable Porsche Nord Course in high spirits after winning the Omega Dubai Desert Classic earlier in the season.
Joining Casey in the field are Major Champions and Ryder Cup stars Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson, while the highest-ranked player in the field Abraham Ancer makes his Continental European debut this week in Germany.
Ancer is currently 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking and searching for a first victory since the Emirates Australian Open in 2018.
Also teeing it up in Hamburg this week is Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, fresh from his success at Made in HimmerLand presented by FREJA where the 35-year-old stormed to a five-stroke victory and an eighth European Tour title.
There will be a maximum of 2,000 spectators per day in attendance this week as the first European Tour event on European soil to host general admission fans since October 2019 after local authorities gave the go-ahead as a model project.
The tournament will also be played over 54 holes, from Saturday to Monday, due to a late change in Covid regulations by the German government which placed the United Kingdom on its travel ‘red list’.
This week also marks the final opportunity for players to qualify for the U.S. Open through a mini ranking. The top ten aggregate Race to Dubai points earners not otherwise exempt from the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett, Made in HimmerLand presented by FREJA and the Porsche European Open will earn their place at Torrey Pines.
Richard Bland, winner of the Betfred British Masters, and Guido Migliozzi cannot be knocked out of the top ten, and Wiesberger has also secured his place after returning to the top 50 in the World following his victory in Denmark. All remaining players currently occupying the qualifying spots could mathematically be knocked out of the rankings.
Paul Casey: “I’m excited. It’s my second defence which was delayed, I had one in the States as well with the Valspar. Finally, here we are. It means I had the trophy for an extra year. I’m super excited to be here.
“It’s great to be back on this course, they’ve made some changes. But I’m really happy for everybody here in Hamburg, at Porsche, the promoters, the other sponsors, the European Tour. For me, it’s one thing me being delayed a year for my title defence – but knowing the energy, and money, that went into last year’s event that never happened, I can only imagine the disappointment that everybody had. You can see the relief and joy on everybody’s face that we’re here and finally going to get this thing going, it couldn’t be better.”
Martin Kaymer: “It’s nice to play in front of people again, in Europe. It’s one of the first tournaments where we can play in front of spectators and fans, and I’m glad it’s happening in Germany – that’s really cool. I’ve never played this golf course before I played yesterday in the Pro-Am.
“I enjoyed the track, it’s quite difficult on certain holes. I can’t see the winning score being very low, depending on the wind here as well. Playing in Germany is always very different. Being a German and playing in your home country you always want to give it a little bit more, so I’m looking forward to playing the next three days.”
Henrik Stenson: “There aren’t any secrets that it’s a long golf course. The rough is pretty thick and quite a few of the green complexes are quite undulated. It’s going to be a good test, I don’t know what the forecast says for wind but if you add that in to the equation it’s not going to make it any easier. You have to be on your game this week, no question.
“It’s trending in the right direction I think. It’s a lot of hard work and I haven’t been really getting the results as of yet, but I hope in the right direction. I’m in the middle of a five-week stretch, this is the middle week of those. It would be nice to pick up some momentum this week before moving on to the home tournament in Sweden then onwards to the U.S. Open. We’re putting the hours in and we’re hopeful it’s going to start paying off.”
Abraham Ancer: “I’m really excited. I’ve never been to Germany, this is my first time. Thankfully I’m not jetlagged and feel fresh. I played here for the first time yesterday in the Pro-Am, the golf course is an absolute beast. It’s going to be a true test. You have to hit it far and straight, and I’m looking forward to the event. I’m a big fan of Porsche, so I’m excited to play in an event so exciting as this.
“I definitely wish I could hit it maybe another 20 or 30 yards farther with my driver. It’s definitely a ball-strikers place, you have to be in the fairway so driving accuracy will be important. With these green complexes and a lot of long irons into par threes it’s going to be extremely important to have a good ball-striking week, that’ll be the key. If not, your short game has to be super, super on point. It’s a ball-strikers paradise out here, you’ve got to hit it good.”
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