Electrifying finale at the breathtaking 2023 Porsche European Open: the 20-year-old youngster Tom KcKibbin from Northern Ireland fended off the onslaught of the two German golfers Marcel Siem and Max Kieffer in an enthralling contest to impressively secure himself the title at the 40th staging of the prestigious DP World Tour tournament with a dream shot on the last hole. The talented youngster, who learnt his golf in the same Holywood club as major winner Rory McIlroy, planted the ball just a few metres from the pin from 187 metres over the water to clinch the title.
A nine-under par score of 283 won McKibbin the Porsche European Open by two shots ahead of Siem, Kieffer and the Frenchman Julien Guerrier: “It was a great day and it’ll probably only sink in tomorrow,” said McKibbin who can now boast the Porsche European Open as the first DP World Tour title in his CV. European golf’s big hope said the approach shot on the 18th was “one of my best ever”.
“I think we’ve seen the best ever Porsche European Open this week,” says Deniz Keskin, Director Brand Management and Partnerships at Porsche AG. “The thrilling contest for the title, the magnificent atmosphere generated by the highly pleasing large crowds and the perfect weather all formed the fitting setting for an electrifying brand experience.”
75 Years of Porsche sports cars
In addition to the already famous Ferris wheel right behind the 18th green and the biggest Public Village in the history of the tournament, visitors were treated to the chance to experience Porsche from close up. In the Porsche World, the 75th anniversary of the brand provided the festive backdrop for a range of attractions centring on exclusive sports cars, a gaming area and, as the top spot in the Public Village, the Public Hole-in-One. On each of the four days of the tournament, the fans were able to qualify with a successful putt on the specially designed 75 Years Porsche hole for a final shoot out on the tournament course’s 17th at the end of play – where the prize was the official Hole-in-One car.
Luring everybody on the par-3 17th on all four rounds was once again a dream car for a dream shot. The Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo in Mamba Green Metallic however did not end up in new ownership. Neither the pros not the fans managed an ace on the 140-metre hole – even though some missed only by a few centimetres. There were however three dream shots to cheer – two aces were made by Jannik de Bruiyn (Germany) and Jazz Janewattananond (Thailand) on the second hole. The German Hurly Long hit a sensational albatross on the 11th in the second round when holing out from 259 metres with his second shot.
Birdies for Charity: Porsche donates 120,000 euro to Ukraine aid projects
A big success this year was also the Birdies for Charity fundraiser organised by the title sponsor for the first time whereby the donation has gone to Ukraine aid projects. For every birdie made during the tournament on the Porsche Nord Course, the title sponsor donated 75 euro. Over the four days, the pros make a total of 1,359 birdies over the four days resulting in a sum of 101,925 euro which Porsche rounded up to 120,000 euro. The donation will be split up equally between the “JOBLINGE Hamburg“ and the “Hamburger Abendblatt hilft” foundations.
Webber and Ripke enjoy a thrilling golf day
Porsche Brand Ambassador Mark Webber and photographer Paul Ripke enjoyed an exceptional golf day on the Porsche Nord Course ahead of the Porsche European Open. In glorious sunshine and in great spirits, the former Endurance World Champion in a Porsche and the photographer savoured the awesome atmosphere during the Pro-Am and went head-to-head in a unique Dreamers’ Challenge in the Public Village and in the VIP Garden Lounge. The two went head-to-head on the Porsche Public Hole-in-One, the Carrera slot-car track and in the cook-off at the Big Green Egg Grill with judge and 3-star chef Thomas Bühner.
The overall win went to Mark Webber who said, “It was an incredibly funny day. The Porsche Nord Course really is a world-class course and I played with world class guys. Everything was high-class – Porsche like,” raved Webber and Ripke added: “Today is probably the best golf day I’ve ever had. At least in Germany. The conditions here are fabulous.” Kite boarder and Porsche athlete Rita Arnaus also came along to take a look behind the scenes and was visibly excited by the atmosphere.
Kiteboarder tests tournament course
At the start of the week, golf and kiteboarding encountered each other spectacularly on the course’s 18th hole. Sabrina Lutz, European Champion and 13-time German Champion in kiteboarding, tested the kitesurfing qualities of the Porsche Nord Course in the lead-up to the Porsche European Open. “It’s the first time I’ve ever kiteboarded on a golf course. It was a brilliant experience. You can see that the elements can offer quite different challenges. It’s a nice lesson to take away from the day, and a big commitment to sport in natural surroundings,” said Sabrina Lutz who competes for Team Duotone. Porsche has been involved in kiteboarding since 2021. As a part of its involvement, the company has been collaborating with amongst others Duotone, the leading equipment maker.
Ten golfers all within two shots of each other at the 2023 Porsche European Open – seldom in the long history of the time-honoured tournament, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, have there been so many players with a realistic chance of winning the title going into the final day. After three rounds on the Porsche Nord Course at Green Eagle Golf Courses near Hamburg, there is a six-way tie at the top of the leaderboard – Jordan Smith (England), winner of the 2017 Porsche European Open, David Law (Scotland), the 20-year youngster Tom McKibbin (Northern Ireland), John Axelsen (Denmark), Alexander Björk (Sweden) and Julien Guerrier (France).
“The win would mean the world to me,” said the highly talented Tom McKibbin, who like Rory McIlroy learnt his golf at Holywood Golf Club. But there is a long way to go until that happens – for all the potential winners. With a leaderboard that includes seven golfers from seven different nations in the top seven placings, predictions are impossible. The leading bunch will have to heed the words of John Axelsen: “It’s a tough course on which you have to remain patient. It’s important to make lots of pars and then hope a few putts drop.” All his rivals no doubt feel the same way when reviewing the lessons they have learnt from three rounds on the course that is generally considered to be the most difficult on the Tour. “Anything can happen. It’s about being there when the moment comes,” said the Scot David Law. “It’s been a magnificent tournament.”
The best chances of a German victory lie at the moment with Marcel Siem, who moved up the leaderboard after carding an impressive 70. Sitting at 5-under par, he is hot on the heels of the leaders in seventh. The 42-year-old got off to a great start and was four under after 14 holes. A mistake on the 15th led to the day’s only bogey. “I’m a little annoyed. The shot into the water on the 15th was basically my only bad one in the last two days,” said Siem, who is still highly positive ahead of the final round – also a result of the fans lining the course: “Tournaments are won on Sundays. The atmosphere is mega. It’s a goosebumps feeling. I almost had tears in my eyes after the birdie on the 14th. You just want to get out and play golf. We’ll being going flat out tomorrow with the crowd.”
Fellow German Max Kieffer, the half-way leader, had a bumpy ride today but dug deep to stay in touch with the Top 6. A 75 has left him on four under par two shots off the lead – but still very much in the running to win his second title on the DP World Tour.
1104 birdies for a good cause
The first three rounds of the tournament have seen the pros make 1104 birdies so that the Birdies for Charity donation now totals 82,800 euro. Porsche has inaugurated the “Birdies for Charity” fundraiser at the Porsche European Open, whereby the money raised will go towards Ukraine aid projects. The title-sponsor is donating 75 euro for every birdie made during the four tournament rounds played on the Porsche Nord Course. The sports car manufacturer will therefore extend it charitable commitment.
Playing his second hole, the Par 5 eleventh, Hurly Long holed an incredible 259-metre 3-wood for an extremely rare albatross (three under Par, two shots on a Par 5). For the 27-year-old, who competed for Germany at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, it was his first ever albatross. “It’s something I’ve never even come close to doing. I struck the ball perfectly, but it was difficult to follow from so far out. I shouted ‘go in’, but you can never be sure. We only saw that the ball had actually dropped when we got to the green. Incredible,” said Long who later hit four bogeys in a row to ruin his good position on the leaderboard. Now level par for the two rounds, he goes into the weekend sharing 21st. “But two good rounds and you’re back in the running,” continued the German.
Max Kieffer successfully defended his top spot with a solid 71 to leave him at six under par. After making four birdies in his first nine holes, he however missed out on an even better score. “Things were a little tougher on the back nine and I hit some not so good iron shots. Luckily enough I managed some good ups-and-downs,” said the 32-year-old who is pleased to have “done a good job today in enjoying the atmosphere and turning it into positive energy”. Kieffer, who last year ended Germany’s eight winless years on the DP World Tour when claiming the D+D Czech Masters, is looking forward to the weekend. “I’ve never been so well-placed here, but I’ve always liked the course. I’ll pop over to range and practice my putting. Then I’ll try to switch off and energise.”
Sharing second place behind Kieffer with the weekend coming up is the Scot David Law, who for a short time was on course to shooting a course record when carding the day’s best score (66), Tom McKibbin (Northern Ireland) and Jordan Smith (England), the 2017 Porsche European Open winner. “On the front nine, I tried above all to make birdies and go as low as possible. On the back nine, I was held back a bit,” said Law whose sole DP World Tour win is over six years ago. Smith once again showed he can produce the goods on the Porsche Nord Course. “The course suits my game – lots of drives and long irons. It’s why I love coming here.”
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond produced another highlight at the 40th edition of the long-standing tournament. What with all the success stories, he went almost unnoticed when hitting a hole-in-one at the Par 3 second. It however speaks for a spectacular first two days in Hamburg.
839 birdies for a good cause
In the first two rounds of the tournament, the pros made 839 birdies. With the weekend coming up, the Birdies for Charity donation now totals 62,925 euro. Porsche has inaugurated the “Birdies for Charity” fundraiser at the Porsche European Open, whereby the money raised will go towards Ukraine aid projects. The title-sponsor is donating 75 euro for every birdie made during the four tournament rounds played on the Porsche Nord Course. The sports car manufacturer will therefore extend it charitable commitment.
With the sun bathing the Porsche Nord Course in a warm light in the afternoon, the Green Eagle Golf Courses crowd was becoming more and more certain that the chance at the 2023 Porsche European Open of there being the first German home win on the DB World Tour for 15 years is greater than never before. It would also be the first German title at the long-standing tournament, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, since it came to Germany in 2015.
There is still a long way to go until the final putt on late Sunday afternoon. However, after round one of four, the leaderboard is already taking on the look home fans were hoping for – a German out in front, four Germans in the Top 10, a hole-in-one by a German youngster and other impressive scores posted by the international elite at the season’s first world class event in Germany.
Kieffer: “I’m now really looking forward to tomorrow.“
The man of the day from a German point of view was Max Kieffer who co-heads the leaderboard alongside the Swede Simon Forsström after both went round in spectacular 69s. The 32-year-old, who last year ended the eight-year German drought on the DB World Tour when winning the D+D Czech Masters, started his campaign on the 10th – and how. “It contained a few highlights, long putts and a chip-in. It naturally spurred me on.” He was quickly topping the leaderboard at three under. “I basically could have come away with more with the following wind and excellent shots on the back nine. But the putts didn’t drop.” There is therefore room for improvement, even though it is not a great deal. “It was a fantastic day. The weather was pretty cool out there today but it was generally really enjoyable. I got great support from the crowd and I’m now really looking forward to tomorrow.”
There is going to be an early start on day 2 – probably in low temperatures. “Now it’s all about going to bed and getting up early tomorrow at five. It’s generally easier playing in the morning even if it’s going to be cold. What’s good is that we come from Germany and had a long winter,” laughed Kieffer – like so often today.
Marcel Siem: “It’s mega here.“
Fellow German Marcel Siem, who is lying equal seventh on two under, was also visibly satisfied – even though he had been viewing a better score after going three under with nine holes to play. “If you’d have given me one or two under before the round, I’d have taken it.” The 42-year-old knows that he is still very much in the running – and in an excellent frame of mind. “It’s a very important tournament for me. It’s mega here. I’ve never been to a tournament where everything is so friendly. Sponsors, friends – they’re all here. I love the tournament. It’s going to get better and better.”
Alongside Siem is his good mate Freddy Schott, who is back in the reckoning after some not quite so satisfying weeks. Another highlight, and not only from a German point of view, was provided by the up-and coming golfer Jannik de Bruyn when acing the 174-meter Par 3 second hole with a 7-iron tee shot. “It was mega,” said the 23-year-old. “I don’t know when I last felt so happy on the golf course.”
That not only German fans and German golfers are generating a great atmosphere on the Porsche Nord Course was something that not only the Dane Marcus Helligkilde found out when going round in an impressive 70 which has put him equal third with Joost Luiten (Netherlands), Kristian Krogh Johannessen (Norway) and Jordan Smith (England), the 2017 Porsche European Open champion: “It’s quite special here. I’m staying close to Hamburg at the father of my caddie’s place. It feels a bit like a home tournament. I keep seeing lots of Danes with flags cheering us on. It all feels a bit like being at home. It’s a brilliant golf course, a very good test.”
Porsche in golf
Porsche has been involved successfully in golf since 2015 as the title sponsor of the Porsche European Open, a DP World Tour event. In 2019, the automobile manufacturer expanded its activities in professional golf with automotive partnerships at tournaments on the US PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. Porsche can also look back on a more than three-decade Porsche Golf Cup history. The tournament series is one of the company’s most successful customer events. Held for the first time in Germany in 1988, the Porsche Golf Cup has developed into an international event in which, at its peak, over 17,000 Porsche customers took part in 261 worldwide qualifying tournaments. The Porsche Golf Circle is also highly successful. An international community for keen golf-playing Porsche customers, it was launched in 2017. Paul Casey has been complementing the Porsche family as the first Brand Ambassador from the game of golf since 2020.