Bernd Wiesberger looking forward to returning to East Lothian to defend his Scottish Open title

Bernd Wiesberger of Austria is in pole position to win the Race to Dubai this week. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Bernd Wiesberger of Austria is in pole position to win the Race to Dubai this week. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
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Austrian Bernd Wiesberger is aiming to defend his Scottish Open title in East Lothian next summer as the European No 1 and says he is ready for a tougher test back at The Renaissance Club.

The 34-year-old beat Frenchman Benjamin Hebert in a play-off to win the Aberdeen Standard Investments-sponsored event in July after the pair finished locked together on 22-under-par in a low-scoring event.

A number of players, notably Rory McIlroy, claimed the course set up that week had not been tough enough for a tournament of that calibre.

“I was quite pleased with the golf course. I liked it a lot,” said Wiesberger at a press conference in Dubai in the build up to the season-ending DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

“Look, we had a golf course that, with tricky conditions, could be a really challenging test. What happened was that we had a lot of rain the week going in and we had rarely any wind the week of golf in quite warm conditions.

“If you put a field on a golf course going into a major in the summer, everybody is in top form. You’re going to see low scoring. I mean, there’s very few golf courses with the quality of golf players we have in the world right now that can’t take a golf course apart. If it was baked out or we had like 30-miles-an-hour wind, the golf course could play a lot different. It’s just the way the week panned out weather-wise, and that made it a little bit vulnerable.

“But I’m sure going into next year, maybe they make a couple of adjustments with the rough and maybe some pin positions, maybe the green speeds. But, at the end of the day, we were really favoured by the conditions and low scoring was possible for that fact.

“I still thought the golf course was really enjoyable to play, but it was a pretty good field and conditions that favoured low scoring.”

Wiesberger’s win on the East Lothian coast was the middle of three title triumphs this season, having landed the Made in Denmark in May then the Italian Open in October.

On the back of those successes, he is in pole position to win the Race to Dubai, with only four players - Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry and Matthew Fitzpatrick - in with a chance of overtaking him.

“In general, every time I’ve kind of been in that position, I’ve played really well on Sunday and stuck there or thereabout,” he told The Scotsman. “Especially in Scotland, it was the biggest win of my career at that point. Winning a Rolex Series event against a really, really strong field the week leading into The Open.

“Winning in Denmark gave me a lot of momentum and really kick-started the season to a point where, you know, trying to play for the Race to Dubai title was a real possibility.

“I really enjoyed my week up there at The Renaissance, and it was a really, really pleasing kick-start to what was an awesome season for me this year.”

Wiesberger held off Bob MacIntyre in a thrilling last-day duel to claim his Made in Denmark win. Six months on, the pair are both chasing titles this week, with the Scot leading the battle to be crowned as Rookie of the Year.

“I’ve played a lot of golf with Bob, and it’s amazing how he’s playing this year,” said Wiesberger of the 23-year-old left-hander from Oban.

“If Bob goes on to make Rookie of the Year, it would be a great thing for him. I feel like he’s going to be one of the future stars on this tour. He’s really got a great game and I enjoy playing with him.”

• Turkish Airlines fly daily to Dubai via Istanbul with golf clubs flying for free. Check out turkishairlines.com