Scotland’s Marc Warren ended a six-year wait for victory by winning the Austrian Open as the European Tour and European Challenge Tour seasons restarted after a four-month break due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The 39-year-old Glaswegian, who last tasted victory in the 2014 Made In Denmark, was ranked 1,258 in the world and a 150-1 outsider at the start of the week.
But he started the final day at Diamond Country Club in a share of the lead with Germany’s Nicolai von Dellingshausen and managed to come out on top in an enthralling battle with Spanish youngster Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez to win again on the European Tour.
Garcia Rodriguez eagled the first to move to within one shot and the pair shared the lead coming down the home straight until Warren made his sixth birdie of the day on the 17th.
Germany’s Marcel Schneider made a run for the title with a three-under-par round of 69, holding the clubhouse lead on 12 under par while Warren stood on the 18th tee.
After Garcia Rodriguez, who trailed by one after the 17th, hit his tee shot into the water, Warren needed just a par to secure his first title since 2014, which he duly converted from five feet.
He said: “It’s massive. Going from a few hours ago I didn’t have full status, now to be in a winner’s category and plan the year a little bit is good.
“I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, trying to hit one shape all the time and when I do play try and do that and try not to mess about too much.
“The last time I’ve won was 2014 and I’ve played very poorly on the golf course in the years since then.
“The break has been unfortunate for everyone but it came at a good time for me, spending some time at home and trying to get my game ready to play golf. It was nice to have such a long break with the family. The last few weeks I’ve been able to get some good work done and get ready to play golf.”
Warren claimed the title while playing without a caddie and the Glaswegian felt carrying his own clubs helped him remain focused, although he doesn’t intend to make it a habit. He added: “Carrying my bag this week probably helped tone it down a little, just going out and playing and seeing what happens. The first time since 2005 – so 15 years.
“Hopefully this is the one and only time, no matter what I say, I do enjoy the caddie’s company. Last night I had a few nice texts from some of the caddies who are good friends. I didn’t say it, but I was thinking I could have done with one of them on Saturday. It was brutal. At times like that you appreciate what a great job they do. I’m looking forward to getting a caddie on the bag again.”
Fellow Scots Connor Syme and Craig Howie finished tied fourth on 10-under.