This week sees the continuation of a strong run of tournaments on the European Tour with the Porsche European Open. This tournament has had an up and down history having been held in multiple different countries and even falling off the schedule for a while. The European Open has found a long term host country in Germany with the Green Eagle Golf Courses playing host for the third year in a row.
The newly truncated PGA Tour season has had the added benefit of seeing big names from American golf hop over the Atlantic to compete on the European Tour. Some big names are in the field for the European Open but it’s a star of European golf, Thomas Pieters, who could well go on to win his second tournament of the summer.
Green Eagle is the sort of place that would impress any golf fan. Among a number of top class facilities are a number of courses and it’s the North Course that hosts the European Open. It’s not a course at which scoring gets out of hand. The primary defence of this layout is its tremendous distance. The North Course can stretch to over 7,800 yards but it’s unlikely to play to that maximum this week.
Water hazards are in play on almost every hole but the fairways and greens are quite easy to hit. There’s a much tougher test when actually aboard the greens as they are full of slopes and are tricky to read. The bigger hitters should have an advantage given the rain in the forecast, especially as par five scoring has been important in the two renewals at Green Eagle.
|North Course, Green Eagle Golf Courses||Winsen, Germany||7,544 Yards||€2,000,000|
The nomadic nature of the European Open means that we’ve seen players with very different styles winning the last five renewals. Jordan Smith and Thongchai Jaidee, for example, go about their business on the golf course in very different ways. Shorter hitters showed they could score well on the North Course last year when the fairways were firm and fast but it’s likely to be a different story this time around.
|Year||Winner||Course||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2018||Richard McEvoy||Green Eagle Golf Courses||-11||1 Stroke|
|2017||Jordan Smith||Green Eagle Golf Courses||-13||Playoff|
|2016||Alexander Levy||Bad Griesbach||-19||Playoff|
|2015||Thongchai Jaidee||Bad Griesbach||-17||1 Stroke|
|2009||Christian Cevaer||London Golf Club||-7||1 Stroke|
Analysis: Agression Could be Key
The big names from the PGA Tour playing at the European Open will each hope they can make the most of the sort of soft, long golf course that they play quite often in America. Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey and Patrick Reed are each understandably getting a lot of support in the betting as they each play the sort of golf that looks to be required at the North Course.
When you give big hitters the ability to hit greens from the rough they don’t often fail to take advantage. It would be a surprise if this year’s European Open wasn’t won by a powerful golfer who plays aggressive golf and putts well.
Pieters Ready to Win Again
When Thomas Pieters won the Czech Masters the overriding emotion was one of relief rather than delight. The Belgian has really struggled since making his Ryder Cup debut in 2016, failing badly to take advantage of his incredible skills as a golfer.
The most eye-catching element of Pieters’ game is his power. He makes the most of his tall, athletic frame to shift the ball a long way from the tee and can hit shorter irons into the greens than most. That power will make him a danger this week, as will his excellent ball striking and putting which is excellent when he gets hot.
The win in Prague was important and Pieters now has a great chance to kick on against stars from both the European and PGA Tours at a generous looking 16/1 with Ladbrokes.
Herbet to Enjoy Opening His Shoulders
Lucas Herbert can reflect on last week’s eighth place finish at the European Masters very proudly. The Australian is among the biggest hitters on the European Tour and was only able to pull driver from his bag on very few occasions in the Swiss Alps. Displaying enough control with his game to narrowly miss out on a playoff was a major plus for Herbert as he seeks to wrap up a place inside the top 110 of the Race to Dubai rankings.
Herbert’s style of play should be much better suited to the North Course at Green Eagle. He can let rip off the tee on many of the holes and will be especially keen to maximise his power on the reachable par fives. Hitting form right now would be perfect for Herbert given how much money and how many ranking points there are up for grabs in the next few weeks. Challenging for the second week in a row and grabbing an each way payout for those who back him are well within Herbert’s capabilities at 60/1 with bet365.
Final Verdict: Thomas Pieters to Win
Thomas Pieters has long aimed to be competitive at the very top level of golf. He has a lot of work to do from here given the way his game fell away over the last couple of years but can remind some of the world’s elite just how good he is with victory in the European Open at 16/1 with Ladbrokes.
About the Porsche European Open
The Porsche European Open takes place in Germany on the European Tour schedule each year. Originally founded in 1978 as just the European Open, this tournament took place across various courses in England – as well as being played in Scotland and Ireland – before moving to Germany from 2015.
Since 2017, the Porsche European Open has been held at the Green Eagle Golf Courses (North Course) in Hamburg, Germany. From 2010 to 2014 there was no tournament, but the European Open returned on the European Tour in 2015, with Thongchai Jaidee coming out on top in Bad Griesbach, Germany.
English players have enjoyed plenty of recent success in this event, winning all three since Green Eagle took over as the tournament’s home. In fact, seven of the last ten European Open winners have been Britons. With a current prize fund of €2,000,000, with €333,330 going to the winner (in 2019), it is enough to attract some big name players, while not quite enough to tempt the best US players to cross the Atlantic. This is evidenced by the fact that only two American players have ever won the tournament (ahead of the 2020 event), and they were way back in 1978 (when Bobby Wadkins win in a playoff) and 1980 (when Tom Kite edge victory by a single stroke.
The European Open has had several names and sponsors over the years. In 1981, Dixcel Tissues sponsored the event for a year, with Panasonic and Smurfit Kappa also sponsoring the tournament. Since being reinstated on the European Tour in 2015, the event has been known as the Porsche European Open.
Germany the Current Home of the European Open
The Green Eagle North Course is one of the most challenging golf courses in Germany. The North Course is the longest on the European Tour as well as being one of the longest courses in the world. With several water hazards and islands, even the world’s best players can struggle at Green Eagle if they are not at the top of their game.
The Kildare Hotel and Golf Club (known as the K Club) in Straffan, Republic of Ireland has hosted the European Open a record 13 times. Also, the competition has been held on the Old Course at Sunningdale Golf Club eight times, with the last being in 1992.
Since returning in 2015, Germany has hosted all five European Opens. In 2015 and 2016, Bad Griesbach was the European Open’s home, switching to Green Eagle in 2017.
Where Has The European Open Been Played?
|1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007||Kildare Hotel and Golf Club (Straffan, Ireland)|
|1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992||Sunningdale Golf Club (Berkshire, England)|
|1978, 1980, 1987, 1989, 1991||Walton Heath Golf Club (Surrey, England)|
|2017, 2018, 2019||Green Eagle Golf Courses (Hamburg, Germany)|
|2015, 2016||Golf Resort Bad Griesbach (Bad Griesbach, Germany)|
|2008, 2009||London Golf Club (Kent, England)|
|1993, 1994||East Sussex National Golf Club (Uckfield, England)|
|1979||Turnberry (South Ayrshire, Scotland)|
|1981||Royal Liverpool Golf Club (Wirral, England)|
Welshman Woosnam’s Record Score
Welsh wizard Ian Woosnam prevailed in the Panasonic European Open – as it was then called – in 1988, setting a record score of 260, which was 20 under par. Woosnam beat Nick Faldo by three strokes at Sunningdale. Woosnam won a whole host of significant events and tournaments over the years, including the Masters in 1991, and he is sixth in the all-time list of European Tour winners (at the time of writing) with 29 victories to his name, but his victory in 1988 was his one and only European Open success.
Westwood’s Wonderful Double
Only two players have won back-to-back European Opens. In 1996 and 1997, Swede Per-Ulrik Johansson became the first, with Lee Westwood following suit shortly after. Westwood’s first win was a three-stroke success over Darren Clarke and Peter O’Malley at the K Club in 1999. He put in a fine performance to finish the tournament 17 under par on a score of 271.
Westwood made it back-to-back Smurfit European Open wins at the K Club a year later, this time seeing off Argentine ace Angel Cabrera by just one stroke. Westwood, Johansson, Bernhard Langer and Gordon Brand Jnr are the only golfers to have won the European Open more than once.
Casey’s Victory in 2019
The last Porsche European Open took place at Green Eagle in September 2019. It was a dramatic tournament, with English star Paul Casey coming out on top in Germany. Casey struck a final round score of 66 to secure a narrow one-stroke victory over Robert MacIntyre, Bernd Ritthammer and Matthias Schwab.
After his first European Open win, Casey said, “I get emotional at every victory, but this year has been so fantastic. This is an incredibly prestigious trophy. I’m happy to be the Porsche European Open champion.” It was Casey’s first European Tour victory since winning the KLM Open in September 2014.
Non-European Open Winners
Over the years (ahead of the 2020 tournament) there have been 10 non-European winners of the European Open, including the two Americans previously mentioned. Other notable winners include the ever-popular Australian Greg Norman (who won the Open Championship in 1986 and 1993), and dual US Open winner (2001 and 2000), Retief Goosen from South Africa.
|2004||Retief Goosen||South Africa|
|2002||Michael Campbell||New Zealand|
|1980||Tom Kite||United States|
|1978||Bobby Wadkins||United States|