Preview: Saint Omer open

The Saint-Omer Open 2011 presented by Neuflize OBC takes place from this Thursday June 16th until Sunday the 19th in Lumbres, northern France. The tournament is the only dual ranking event of the season, with half the field from the European Tour and half from the Challenge Tour. There is an added bonus for the winner who receives a one-year European Tour exemption. Although with €600,000 in prize money, the Saint-Omer Open has the smallest purse available on the European Tour.

After the initial disappointment of failing to qualify for the Us Open, Martin Wiegele will hope to make history at the event by becoming the first man to successfully defend his title in the eight years that the tournament has been a part of the European Tour International Schedule. The 32 year-old won his first European Tour victory here 12 months ago.

“It’s a great feeling to be back here as defending champion,” said Wiegele. “I tried to qualify for the US Open but I missed out by three shots. Although it’s a Major, it wasn’t a huge disappointment because I can come back here. It brings back nice memories”.

Other former champions in this week’s field include England’s David Dixon, who beat Christian Nilsson to the title in 2008, a year before the Swede tasted victory for himself. The Englishman goes into this week’s play on the back of a strong performance at last week’s Italian Open, finishing in tied 15th place.

Dixon said: “I’ve done well at St Omer in the past and I’m starting to play nicely, so I felt I could do with going there and having a right go to try to win it again, which would take the pressure off for the rest of the year. The stars of The European Tour either tend to take a week off or head over to the US Open, so it’s a great opportunity for those who don’t have the best rankings to grab some of the limelight. I’m really looking forward to going back.”

Of the home contingent appearing at the championship, 3 time European Tour champion Jean-Francois Remesy will hope his experience will give him an advantage over the field.

Meanwhile young Welshman Jamie Donaldson will be bidding to continue a great run of form which has seen him finish in the top ten of three of his last four events.

From the Challenge Tour half of the draw, England’s Philip Archer goes to Saint Omer on the back of capturing his second Challenge Tour title at last week’s Allianz Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne. will have live score updates on all GAA Championship matches over the summer.


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