Marcel Siem, the 32-year-old playing in his second Open Championship this week, is sparring with South Africa’s Branden Grace to be the most improved golfer on the European Tour in 2012.

Grace finished 2011 ranked 179th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, whereas he has won three times to lie 5th so far this year; Siem finished 2011 ranked 87th, but new found consistency – and his first victory in eight years at the French Open two weeks ago – has catapulted the German golfer to 10th in the Race to Dubai.

“I have changed quite a few things recently,” starts Siem, in explaining his rise to form over the past year. “With technique, I have been working to get the club a bit more neutral at the top – before I had left the clubface a bit open – and over the past two years I have started to work out in the gym pretty hard.

“I also became a father for the first time last year, which has been a big change to my life. Golf is now a job to me, whereas before it was just about having fun. Golf is not a hobby any more because I want to give my little daughter a good life. This is why I am working harder.”

Victoria Siem was born 18 months ago, and with her dad taking his job more seriously, and displaying a more level temperament on the golf course, he has already earned more prize money on the European circuit in 2012 – €1,115,263 – than he did in the three previous seasons combined, and added rewards have come with berths in the Open, the WGC Bridgestone Championship later this month, and he is also heading towards a spot in the PGA Championship.

But first thing’s first: avoiding Royal Lytham’s 205 bunkers for four days, starting tomorrow.

“I really think I can play well here,” adds Siem. “My goal this week is to finish in the top 10. I think that is realistic, considering how I have been playing over the past year. The best players in the world are all here, so to win this one is hard-core – you would more or less need the best four days of golf in your life. I will just give my best and see what happens. I love this golf course.”

And what about the lush Lytham rough lying in wait for errant shots?

“I think that is what it is all about when you play the Open Championship. Golfers are not supposed to walk through the event shooting 30 under par. I think it is a shame sometimes when we play courses where the winning score is 24 or 25 under par. It should be like this every week. The rough is tough, it is something special, and the further you go off line, the more chance you have of actually losing your ball. It’s a great test.”

Siem tees off at 12:15 in the first round tomorrow, with South Africa’s George Coetzee and American Chez Reavie.

Story courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, patron of the 2012 Open Championship