Friday, 28 January 2011
Challenge Tour Number One, Alvaro Velasco (Phil Inglis)
Challenge Tour Number One, Alvaro Velasco (Phil Inglis) takes a statistical look at the Challenge Tour…

- The 2011 European Challenge Tour Schedule, comprising a minimum of 26 tournaments, will visit 18 different countries on four Continents and will include new events in Italy, Norway and, for the first time, India. 

- The Challenge Tour reaches 25 in 2011, having been founded in 1987.

- In 2010, the total prize money won on the Challenge Tour was €4,826,454. The Rankings were won by Spaniard Alvaro Velasco, who captured two titles: first at the Fred Olsen Challenge de España in June, and then at September’s Kazakhstan Open, which at €400,000 was again the richest regular event on the Schedule.

- Velasco topped the Rankings with earnings of €134,297, and he was followed home by three 21 year olds playing their first full seasons on the Challenge Tour: England’s Matt Haines (€107,152), Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen (€104,754) and Dutchman Floris de Vries (€101,228).  

- The remaining 16 graduates, in descending order, were: Bernd Wiesberger, Oscar Floren, Daniel Gaunt, Robert Dinwiddie, Mark Tullo, George Murray, Julio Zapata, Joel Sjöholm, Lee Slattery, Scott Jamieson, Matt Zions, Marius Thorp, Lorenzo Gagli, Magnus Carlsson, Raymond Russell, Alexandre Kaleka. 

- A total of 13 different countries were represented in the top 20 of the Rankings, with the highest number coming from England (Dinwiddie, Haines and Slattery) and Sweden (Carlsson, Floren and Sjöholm).   

- Velasco succeeded Italian Edoardo Molinari, who in 2009 broke the Challenge Tour record for earnings in a season with €242,980, as the winner of the Rankings. The Spaniard, along with Haines, Olesen and De Vries, took the number of players who have broken through the €100,000 barrier in a season to 29.   

- The 29th co-sanctioned event between the Challenge Tour and the Tour de las Americas takes place with the Abierto International Copa Antioquia in Colombia from March 10-13.

- The Jeev Milkha Singh-designed Kensville Golf Club in Ahmedabad, India, which hosted the inaugural Gujarat Kensville Challenge won by Gaganjeet Bhullar, is one of four new venues on the 2011 Challenge Tour Schedule. The three other new courses are the PGA of Sweden National near Malmö, Sweden, the venue for The Princess by Schüco from June 30-July 3; Acaya Golf Resort in Lecce, Italy, which will stage the inaugural Acaya Golf Challenge Open from July 7-10; and finally Losby Golfklubb near Oslo, Norway, host of the Norwegian Challenge from August 11-14.

- The 2011 schedule also welcomes two new sponsors to the Challenge Tour, with Barclays sponsoring the Kenya Open, played at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi, Kenya, from March 31-April 3; and German engineering firm Schüco named as title sponsors of The Princess.

- This year the Madeira Islands Open BPI – Portugal on The European Tour, held from May 19-22 at Porto Santo Golfe in Madeira, Portugal, will also count towards the Challenge Tour Rankings, though the prize fund will be capped at a figure lower than the full €700,000 for the purposes of the Rankings only. The same again also applies to the dual ranking €600,000 SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC, which for the 12th year running will be played at Aa St Omer Golf Club in Lumbres, France, from June 16-19.      

- For the first time, Challenge Tour graduates secured five victories on The European Tour in 2010. They were: Rhys Davies (Trophée Hassan II), Edoardo Molinari (The Barclays Scottish Open and the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles), James Morrison (Madeira Islands Open BPI – Portugal) and John Parry (the Vivendi Cup 2010).

- For the first time, two amateurs won on the Challenge Tour Schedule in 2010. They were: Andreas Hartø (Roma Golf Open presented by REZZA) and Romain Wattel (ALLIANZ Europen Strasbourg-Golf de la Wantzenau).

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