With a little under a month to go until the opening event of the season, the Barclays Kenya Open, europeantour.com takes a look at some of the players who have graduated to the Challenge Tour in 2014 thanks to top finishes on one of the four Satellite tours.
Covering all corners of Europe, and a few places a little further afield, the Alps, Pro Golf Tour and EuroPro Tours, as well as the Nordic Golf League, all provide aspiring professional golfers with the opportunity to hone their games and progress through the paid ranks.
Each year the top five players not otherwise exempt from each Order of Merit earn their place on the Challenge Tour, just one step away from European golf’s top table, and all with dreams of finishing in that hallowed top 15 on the Rankings come season’s end.
All 20 players in 2014 will hope to follow in the footsteps of Sweden’s Johan Carlsson and England’s Tyrrell Hatton, who both earned their place on last season’s circuit through top finishes on the Nordic Golf League and EuroPro Tour, respectively.
They both went on to finish in the top ten in the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2013, and since embarking on maiden European Tour seasons in 2014, have shown the kind of form that this season’s Satellite tour stars will aspire to.
Alps Tour – Steven Brown
Former Walker Cup player Steven Brown will embark on a maiden Challenge Tour season in 2014 thanks to a third place finish on the Alps Tour Order of Merit.
Playing out of Wentworth Club, the Surrey native won two titles last year en route to his podium place on the French based circuit, an achievement that has seen his career in the paid ranks gather pace after an impressive amateur career.
Having contended for major titles at home and abroad, the Englishman had his best season in 2011, one which saw him win the English Amateur Championship and culminated in the now 26 year old claiming the winning half-point that saw Great Britain & Ireland win the Walker Cup for the first time in eight years.
Brown played alongside the likes of Andy Sullivan and Tom Lewis in that successful team, as well as against America’s Peter Uihlein, and he will no doubt aspire to the success that all three have had on The European Tour since the match at Royal Aberdeen, host of this season’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
His professional career may have taken a little while to get going, but having only played six times on the Challenge Tour, with a share of 14th at the 2012 Norwegian Challenge his best result, it will be interesting to see how he fares with a first full schedule ahead of him.
Pro Golf Tour – Florian Fritsch
Florian Fritsch looked comfortable once again on home soil in 2013 en route to four tournament victories in just 11 starts on the Pro Golf Tour Tour to claim top spot in the Order of Merit.
Based in South Western Germany, Fritsch has played Challenge Tour golf before, finishing in 31st place on the Ranking during his first season in 2009 thanks to two runner up finishes at both the ALLIANZ Open Côtes d'Armor Bretagne and Kärnten Golf Open presented by Markus Brier Foundation.
Fritsch also played a full season on The European Tour in 2011 after having earned his card through the Qualifying School the previous year, but he failed to fire on all cylinders en route to a 156th place finish on The Race to Dubai, not helped by his fear of flying – which often prevents him from attending major events outside of continental Europe.
His form in his native Germany last season has once again proven his credentials as a force to be reckoned with though, it just remains to be seen how he will get on in light of his Pteromerhanophobia as he embarks on another global golfing season on the Challenge Tour.
EuroPro Tour – Oliver Farr
After a solid season on the EuroPro Tour in 2013, Welshman Oliver Farr burst in to life in the final five events of the season, winning two of them en route to finishing top of the Order of Merit.
He will be another of the Satellite golfers embarking on a maiden Challenge Tour campaign this season, and having tasted some success in 2013 with a couple of top 25 finishes, he will look to replicate that form in the year ahead.
Farr’s amateur pedigree was clear, representing Wales consistently on the international scene, and the 25 year old will now look to cash in on his promise and make a name for himself at the next level of professional golf.
Nordic Golf League – Jesper Kennegård
Another man to dominate his Satellite tour in 2013 was Jesper Kennegård, winning three times in 18 starts, as well as notching up a further ten top ten results.
An imposing presence at six foot four, the Swede represented Arizona State University in the American collegiate system from 2007-2011 with some success, earning medallist honours on three occasions and named a third team All-American in 2009-10.
Kennegård also ranks fourth in the university’s all-time scoring average, just one place below five-time Major Champion Phil Mickelson, and two spots ahead of 12-time European Tour winner Paul Casey.
Since his time in the United States, the 25 year old Swede has plied his trade sporadically on the Asian Tour, with a tie for sixth at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters that same season his best result there, before dominating the Nordic Golf League last year.
One more to watch
Of those other hopefuls looking to make a successful transition to Challenge Tour life, one stand out is Scotland’s David Law, who has eight time European Tour winner and 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie as his mentor.
Law, a fellow Aberdonian, will have learned much from the experienced Lawrie, which should stand him in good stead for the season ahead considering his considerable amateur accolade as the only man to win the Scottish Boys’ and Mens’ titles in the same year, back in 2009.
His fifth place finish in last season’s Pro Golf Tour Order of Merit has now proven his professional pedigree, as have the two titles he has won on that circuit, and he will be another man to watch this season as a result.
For more information on all four Satellite tours, click the links below: