Sweden’s Christian Nilsson will attempt to re-claim his place at the head of the European Challenge Tour Rankings this week when he tees up at the inaugural AGF-Allianz EurOpen de Lyon in Monthieux, France.
Having played seven events on The European Tour, a tied seventh at the Methorios Capital Italian Open being his best effort until he shot to the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings with his runner-up finish at the dual ranking SAINT OMER OPEN presented by NEUFLIZE OBC.
For the remainder of the season, Nilsson will now devote most of his attention to the Challenge Tour in a bid to guarantee a full-time return to The European Tour.
The Swede is currently second in the Rankings on €55,550, having been overtaken by Seve Benson after the Englishman finished tied second at last week’s Scottish Challenge.
Benson is not in the field for France but one man who is, is Scotland’s Greig Hutcheon, who withdrew from this week’s Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles to concentrate on enhancing his Challenge Tour credentials.
Hutcheon said: “I was fortunate enough to be invited to France, so I have to go really. It put me in a bit of a quandary, because it meant missing out on the Scottish PGA Championship, which I really wanted to play. But after making the cut and playing well at the Scottish Challenge, my decision was made for me.
“I’d be foolish to decline an invitation for a Challenge Tour event. It’s just a shame I had to call Gleneagles with the bad news, but hopefully it might let a youngster in who otherwise wouldn’t have got the chance to play. I had no real intentions of playing on the Challenge Tour at the start of the season, but it’s just kind of turned out that way.
“I knew some of the guys from Tusker who sponsor the Kenya Open, and because of the political situation at the time not many players were particularly keen to go over there, so I offered to play. I ended up finishing fifth, and then went over to the Moroccan Classic, where I finished second. So it’s come out of the blue a bit, and I’ve had to re-think my plans.”
Another player who will be heading straight from Versailles to Monthieux is Sébastien Delagrange. Along with compatriot Jean Pierre Cixous, who finished tied tenth at the Telenet Trophy, Delagrange will bid to become the first Frenchman to triumph on this season’s Challenge Tour Schedule.
The latest player to claim a Challenge Tour title is Taco Remkes of the Netherlands, who heads to France in fine fettle after his superb five-shot victory at the Scottish Challenge.
Remkes said: “It’s a great feeling to win in my first season on the Challenge Tour. I came close in Argentina, and that experienced helped me. Now I look forward to the rest of the season with great confidence."