Wednesday, 03 November 2010
Julio Zapata   (Getty Images)
Julio Zapata (Getty Images) profiles the remaining players who graduated from the Challenge Tour to The European Tour last week... 

Name: Julio Zapata
Nationality: Argentinean
Age: 34
2010 Challenge Tour events played: 21 
Best Challenge Tour performance: 2nd, Tusker Kenya Open
Earnings: €86,961
Highlight of the season: His runner-up finish in Kenya got his season off to a flying start, but finishing tied second in Kazakhstan was arguably more important for the Argentine, as his cheque for €32,000 secured him a return to The European Tour.
Quote: “It was disappointing not to win this season, because I came close a couple of times, but I was very pleased with my consistency and I am looking forward to playing on The European Tour again.”

Name: Joel Sjöholm
Nationality: Swedish
Age: 25
2010 Challenge Tour events played: 21
Challenge Tour best performance: 2nd, ALLIANZ Golf Open de Lyon, Roma Golf Open presented by REZZA
Earnings: €83,907
Highlight of the season: Although his initial reaction to finishing runner-up in Rome was one of disappointment, Sjöholm could be rightly proud of the way in which he pushed the eventual winner Andreas Hartø of Denmark all the way. Sjöholm eagled two of the last four holes to force a play-off, which he lost when the Dane birdied the first extra hole. But his runner-up cheque for €16,500 ensured the Swede a place on The European Tour for the first time.  
Quote: “Having got some close a few times this season, I’m now desperate to get my first “W” next year. It’s obviously going to be tough, but if I keep knocking on the door, I’m confident of getting the job done some time soon.”

Name: Lee Slattery
Nationality: English
Age: 32
2010 Challenge Tour events played: 16
2010 Challenge Tour victories: Telenet Trophy
Earnings: €78,358
Highlight of the season: Captured his first Challenge Tour title for six years with a stunning wire-to-wire win in Belgium, where he finished four shots ahead of the field. Was unable to add to that victory, but his consistency ensured a return to The European Tour, where a player of his undoubted talent belongs.
Quote: “The win meant so much. I’d worked so hard over the past three months with my coach, putting in the hours on the range, and it paid off.”

Name: Scott Jamieson 
Nationality: Scottish
Age: 22
2010 Challenge Tour events played: €67,413
Challenge Tour best performance: 2nd, Kazakhstan Open
Earnings: €67,413
Highlight of the season: The €32,000 he received for finishing runner-up in Kazakhstan was more than many winners received in other weeks, such is the size of the prize fund there. Until that week Jamieson felt he had been merely “plodding along”, but the performance not only propelled him into the top 20 of the Rankings, it also acted as the catalyst for a strong ending to a season – he did not finish outside the top 17 in any of his five remaining events – which culminated with him clutching a coveted European Tour card.  
Quote: “I definitely would’ve taken a top two finish at the start of the week, because I hadn’t had a top ten all year – so it was a good time to play my best golf of the season.”

Name: Matt Zions
Nationality: Australian
Age: 32
2010 Challenge Tour events played: 19
Best Challenge Tour performance: 2nd, Kärnten Golf Open by Markus Brier Foundation
Earnings: €63,176
Highlight of the season: Having missed a short birdie putt to force a play-off with home hero Martin Wiegele in Austria in June, Zions was rather more pleased with his finish at the ECCO Tour Championship in August, where he closed with a birdie to take third place on his own. As winner Andreas Hartø was ineligible to claim the winner’s cheque – he was an amateur at the time – Zions took home €19,800 to climb, albeit temporarily, to sixth place in the Rankings.   
Quote: “I was really disappointed not to win in Austria, because I had a great chance. But it’s all been forgotten now that I’m back on the main Tour. I’m excited, and hopefully I can make a slightly better fist of keeping my card than the last time I was there in 2007.”

Name: Marius Thorp
Nationality: Norwegian
Age: 22
2010 Challenge Tour events played: 15
Challenge Tour best performance: Tied 2nd, Credit Suisse Challenge
Earnings: €63,127
Highlight of the season: Whilst he secured higher finishes in five subsequent events, his eighth place finish at the Telenet Trophy was crucial as, without it, it is doubtful whether Thorp would have gone on to enjoy the season he did. The youngster started the year without a Challenge Tour category, but by finishing in the top ten in his first appearance of the season in Belgium, he not only secured a place in the field for the next event, but also proved himself worthy of the sponsor’s invitation he was playing on.      
Quote: “My game has always been good enough – I just used to lack a bit of confidence. But finishing in the top 20 of the Rankings has given me belief, which I hope I can carry into next season.”

Name: Lorenzo Gagli
Nationality: Italian
Age: 25
2010 Challenge Tour events played: 14
Challenge Tour best performance: Tied 2nd, ALLIANZ EurOpen Strasbourg-Golf de la Wantzenau
Earnings: €62,545
Highlight of the season: Saved his best until last, with a nerve-defying back nine of 32 at the season-ending Apulia San Domenico Grand Final. Gagli’s prospects of securing the top three finish ne needed appeared extremely remote after turning in one over par for the tournament, but he surged through the field with three birdies and an eagle to take a share of third place. 
Quote: “I played very well all week, but that back nine will stay with me a long time. After the turn I just decided to give it everything I had, and it worked out perfectly.” 

Name: Magnus Carlsson
Nationality: Swedish
Age: 30
2010 Challenge Tour events played: 19
2010 Challenge Tour best performance: 2nd, Scottish Hydro Challenge
Earnings: €60,469
Highlight of the season: After an indifferent start the season, his runner-up finish in Scotland earned him €22,000 and sparked an improved run of form which saw him make the cut in his next six events and finish fifth in both the Rolex Trophy and the money-spinning Kazakhstan Open.
Quote: “My season was a little bit up and down, but I kept working really hard on my game and in the end I got my rewards.”

Name: Raymond Russell
Nationality: Scottish
Age: 38
2010 Challenge Tour events played: 19     
2010 Challenge Tour best performances: 2nd, SWALEC Wales Challenge
Earnings: €59,376
Highlight of the season: His two runner-up finishes, in France and Wales, were crucial results, but perhaps overshadowed by his performance at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, when he came good when he needed to most. He went into the week in 21st place in the Rankings, but ended it 19th thanks largely to a closing round of 68 at San Domenico Golf which featured four vital birdies on the back nine.
Quote: “I only really got nervous when I got off the course, because you haven’t got any control over what the other guys are doing. But it was a huge relief when I had it confirmed that I had made the top 20. I’ve been off the main Tour for a few years now, but hopefully I can get back to how I used to play.” 

Name: Alex Kaleka
Nationality: French
Age: 23
2010 Challenge Tour events played: 23
2010 Challenge Tour best performance: 3rd, Telenet Trophy, Rolex Trophy 
Earnings: €58,888
Highlight of the season: Unable to reproduce his stunning victory on his professional debut last year, but his third place finish at the Rolex Trophy – on the back of top six finishes in his previous two events – provided the Frenchman with the momentum he needed to climb into the all-important top 20 of the Rankings.
Quote: “The difference in emotions between finishing 20th and 21st in the Rankings is amazing. I’m looking forward to playing the first four events in South Africa – provided I get in – because it’s a great part of the world. As long as I improve my putting, I’m sure I can cope on The European Tour.”


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