Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Porsche European Open unfortunately won’t go ahead on the Porsche Nord Course at the Green Eagle Golf Courses, near Hamburg, from 3 - 6 September. During the week, we will instead remember some of the special events and people of the long-standing tournament. To get the ball rolling we take a look at last year’s winner, Paul Casey, who was glad of the opportunity to express his regret to fans about the event’s cancellation.
For Casey, 2019’s was a tournament unlike any other. Having lived in the USA for a long time, the Englishman already faces the complication of planning for events in far-away Europe. When he flies back to his old home, it has to be worthwhile, the timing has to be spot on and he needs a little extra motivation. For the three-time Ryder Cup winner, it was clear where everything should begin – at the Porsche European Open on Hamburg’s doorstep at the beginning of September. “It’s no coincidence that I’m starting the European Tour here,” confided Casey during the tournament week in 2019. “I love Porsche and really wanted to play here.”
It was to become a worthwhile trip – and not only because he secured his 19th pro title. “As a fan of sports cars, I felt very much at home this week and it certainly helped me,” revealed Casey. At his first appearance in 2018, the sports car fan, who has several Porsche models in his garage, tested the limits of his driving skills beside a Porsche Experience instructor in a 911 GT3 RS. He raved at the time: “[That was] simply fantastic and the perfect warm-up for the tournament week.” He went on to take an impressive seventh place. A year later and Casey was really warmed up.
Right from the off, at the traditional Porsche Urban Golf Challenge on the main Reeperbahn street in Hamburg’s entertainment district, it was clear that Casey was having fun with his fellow players. He took the positive momentum with him into the first round of the tournament – and immediately left the course as the day’s top golfer. As the head of the leader-board, he enjoyed the pleasure of driving the Leader’s Car on his trips in and around Hamburg. “[What] a fantastic idea. I really wanted to go out onto the roads in a Porsche with such a special look,” he said.
The positive start to the week continued for Casey: another highlight was the hole-in-one car. Only a short time after its world premiere, a Taycan Turbo was turning heads on the 17th tee. Casey raved about the first all-electric Porsche in history, admitting: “Right after the premiere, I read a lot about the Taycan and thought that it’s incredibly fast.”
Then came the Sunday – and the big finale. “I was nervous, and the course is so difficult and challenging,” revealed the 43-year-old a year later. “But I remembered the previous year. This time around, I didn’t want to let this chance slip. It turned out to be a flawless round on the long and difficult course and something of which I’m very proud.”
Once the world No. 3, Casey played fantastic golf when it came to the crunch and won at the end of a nail-biting finale by one shot on 14 under par ahead of the local hero Bernd Ritthammer, Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre and Matthias Schwab from Austria. He was the fifth winner of the Porsche European Open – and the third in succession from England. “It was an incredible feeling after winning this prestigious tournament. My heroes are all engraved on the European Open trophy. Lifting that cup and seeing the names of my heroes there – it’s so cool,” he said.
From 1978 to 2009, the European Open was an important part of the tour calendar and it celebrated its comeback under the name “Porsche European Open" in 2015. It was back in 1991 that Casey got his first taste of professional golf as a young volunteer at the European Open in Walton Heath. His long history with the tournament made his win 28 years later even more memorable. “It really is a very special win,” said Casey at the time. “It was one of the most enjoyable victories I had in my career. I’m looking forward to coming back and defending my title.”
Sending every golf fan his best wishes during the COVID-19 pandemic, he added: “It’s a shame not to defend my Porsche European Open title. I can’t wait to get back on the golf course and see everybody soon. I miss you a lot.”