History has shown that the final events on the European Challenge Tour calendar can make or break a season. With just four tournaments to go on the 2017 Road to Oman, we look at how players have previously capitalised on the more lucrative competitions the Challenge Tour circuit has to offer.
Marcus Armitage – 2016
Armitage arrived at last year’s Hainan Open just outside the top 50 on the Road to Oman knowing he had work to do.
After struggling to get going in Sanya, the tournament was reduced to 36 holes after heavy rain, the then 29 year old entered the Foshan Open as a real outsider.
The Englishman went to Foshan knowing only a win would be good enough if he was to mount a late challenge for a European Tour card.
What followed was four rounds in the 60s, a 19 under par total, and a one-shot victory, sparking emotional scenes as an overwhelmed Armitage tried to process what he had accomplished.
Another top ten at the season-ending NBO Golf Classic Grand Final capped off a remarkable turnaround for Armitage, who finished the season in 11th place in the Rankings.
Callum Shinkwin - 2015
Before teeing it up in Almaty two years ago, Shinkwin sat in 46th place on the Road to Oman after a promising but inconsistent campaign on Europe’s top developmental tour.
A top-five finish in Kazakhstan set the tone for what was set to be a remarkable end to the season from the then-22 year old, who carried his momentum from Nurtau Golf Club to finish tied eighth at the Foshan Open.
The Englishman stormed to third place at the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final and into the top 15, securing a debut season on the European Tour in 2016.
Jason Palmer - 2014
The Englishman’s late season rise is one of the most impressive in recent history. After 11 missed cuts in 20 events, the East Midlands man arrived at the Foshan Open with a point to prove.
The then-30 year old would make the perfect start, shooting a seven under par first round of 65 to share top spot with 2015 Rankings Winner Ricardo Gouveia. But it was Palmer, who is well known for his unorthodox one-handed chipping technique, who would go on to become the champion in China with a wire-to-wire victory.
In the form of his life, Palmer went on to finish second in the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic, capping off an extraordinary fortnight that saw him move from 51st to seventh in the Rankings.
Nacho Elvira - 2013
Before his remarkable 2015 campaign, where the Spaniard won three times to earn immediate promotion on to the European Tour, Elvira made a late charge to earn graduation in 2013. With four events to go, the Madrid man lay in 50th place in the Challenge Tour Rankings.
After getting the ball rolling with a tied ninth finish at the Kazakhstan Open, the then-26 year old went to the Foshan Open full of confidence.
After three rounds in the 60s gave him a three-shot lead with 18 holes to play, Elvira was ultimately left with a 12-foot putt for a one-shot win over England’s Tyrell Hatton – which he holed with aplomb. Two more tied ninth place finishes during the final events of the year in Oman and Dubai and Elvira had squeezed his way into the top 15 and on to the European Tour.
James Busby – 2012
Arguably the most impressive 11th hour charge in recent years came from England’s James Busby back in 2012.
The Englishman was 45th in the Rankings at the start of the week of the 2012 Grand Final in southern Italy, but scores of 66-67-67-66 handed Busby a share of second place – one stroke behind champion Espen Kofstad.
After that result he finished the season in 16th place, comfortably inside the top 20 who earned European Tour cards that year, showing that it is truly not over until the final putt drops during any season on the Challenge Tour.