The Austrian hills are alive with the sound of bagpipes after Marc Warren brilliantly celebrated a European Tour return to golf in ending a six-year winless drought to capture the Austrian Open.
Warren, 39, produced a roller-coaster opening dozen holes on the final day before birdieing two of his closing four in a score of 70 to win by a shot at 14-under par on the Diamond Resort course at Atzenbrugg, some 35 miles from Vienna.
Germany’s Marcel Schneider (69) was second at 13-under par with the Scottish duo of Peebles Craig Howie (66) and Drumoig’s Connor Syme (72) sharing fourth place at 12-under par.
Gavin Moynihan had to settle for a share of 55th after bookending his tournament with under par efforts. The Dubliner returned a two-under par round of 70 on Sunday and collected a cheque worth €1,423 for the effort.
Warren’s victory meanwhile is the Scot’s first win in a month under six years since capturing a third Tour victory at the 2014 Made In Denmark.
And the proud Glaswegian has won in carrying his own Callaway clubs for four rounds after full-time caddy, Ken Herring was ruled out after failing to receive the results of a compulsory Covid-19 test while there was also no stand-by caddies available.
Warren said: “It’s been a long wait as it was 2014 the last time I won, and what’s happened on the golf course in the years since then, I’ve played very poorly.
“The (Covid-19) break has been unfortunate for everyone but it came at a good time for me, allowing me to spend some time at home and trying to get my game ready to play golf.
“The last few weeks I’ve been able to get some good work done and be ready to play golf, so I came here to Austria pretty refreshed.
“Also, having to carry my bag this week probably helped tone it down a little, just going out and playing and seeing what happens so the result couldn’t have been any better.
“It’s been different as it’s the first time since 2005 that I’ve not had a caddy, so it’s 15 years.
“Hopefully this is the one and only time, no matter what I say, I do enjoy the caddie’s company and especially on days like yesterday.
“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 yesterday, it was brutal in the weather we had.
“At times like that you appreciate what a great job they do so I’m looking forward to getting a caddie on the bag again.”
Warren went into the final round of the first Tour event in four months sharing the lead and while he birdied the first, it soon became a scenario of each time he picked-up a shot he gave one back.
He bogeyed three but then for a third of four days, he birdied the fourth. Warren bogeyed eight but regained the shot with a birdie on nine. He then birdied 10 but gave the shot back on 11.
The tide turned in Warren’s favour again at the par-5 15th as it had done a day earlier with Warren having eagled the hole on day one and then birdied the same hole on day two.
He said: “The 15th has been my key hole all week and to have played it in five-under over the four days has been a big key.
“I was just one-under for the round in the rain on Saturday in coming to 15th and managed a birdie that got me to a share of the lead, and it was pivotal again today.”
The birdie at 15 tied Warren for the lead with Schneider who, and in the group ahead of Warren had birdied 16 to move to 13-under par before the Scot holed out for birdie at the 71st hole and then par the last to capture the Stg 61,518 first prize.
It is Warren’s biggest prize purse since a £92,000 pay out in sharing 10th in the 2017 Italian Open but it’s not the money, rather being a winner on Tour that’s more important to the now 18-year pro veteran.
Given it was a joint European/Challenge Tour event, Warren earns just a one-year exemption to the end of 2021.
As well, Warren’s victory will see the Scot jump a remarkable 933 places on the World Rankings from the current No. 1,258th ranked golfer to the new No. 325th.
Warren said: “In terms of my career, this win is massive. It means going from not having main Tour status at the start of this week to now back into a winner’s category so I can plan the remainder of the year a little bit better.
“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.”
Warren was expected to join five of the other six Scots who competed in the Austrian Open in teeing-up Thursday in the Euram Bank Open at Ramsau, around a 250-mile drive south-west of this past week’s venue but he’s chosen now to return home to Scotland and be with his family.