With the dust firmly settled on 2017, we profile five players who could make an impact on the European Challenge Tour over the next 12 months.
Oscar Lengden achieved a lot last year.
The Swede completed his first full Challenge Tour season, recorded his first European Tour top five after playing alongside the likes of Lee Westwood at the D+D REAL Czech Masters, and won his first Challenge Tour title by holing a 30-foot eagle putt at the 18th to triumph at the Bridgestone Challenge.
Since turning professional in 2015, Lengden has been on a steady ascent up the ranks of world golf. The 25 year old reached a career-high 186th in the Official World Golf Ranking in 2017, two years after first teeing up on the Nordic Golf League as World Number 1637.
Having already impressed on the European Tour, and won on the Challenge Tour, Lengden is well-placed to improve on the 23rd spot he claimed on the 2017 Road to Oman.
Another Nordic Golf League graduate who settled seamlessly into life on the Challenge Tour last season was Oliver Lindell.
The young Finn arrived on Europe’s top developmental tour with three professional titles under his belt, despite being just 18 years old, and he nearly added to his trophy haul last season.
Top-five finishes in Ireland and Cordon showed Lindell was not far away from challenging for silverware, and it was in the final event of 2017 where he came closest to victory.
At the start of the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final Lindell sat in 41st place on the Road to Oman, meaning only a top-two finish would be enough to see him leapfrog the rest and take a place in the top 15.
After three rounds at Al Mouj Golf Lindell was sat in second place, with scores of 69-65-70 taking him to within one of leader Clément Sordet with 18 holes to go in Muscat.
Despite a final day 77 scuppering his chances of European Tour promotion, Lindell will take many positives from last season and will be fully confident he can follow in the footsteps of compatriot Tapio Pulkkanen on the Challenge Tour this year.
Also coming close to a maiden Challenge Tour title in his rookie campaign was Adrian Meronk.
The Pole, who joined the paid ranks in October 2016 after reaching World Amateur Number Eight, excelled in his first Challenge Tour outing of 2017 by claiming a share of fifth at the Barclays Kenya Open, but it was the penultimate event of the season when he was challenging again.
Four fine scores of 70-66-70-67, including a bogey-free closing round, were not enough to claim the Ras Al Khaimah, Golf Challenge title, though – but it was enough to seal a place in a play-off against Jens Dantorp.
Although Meronk birdied the par five 18th at the first attempt, Dantorp produced one of the shots of the season with a glorious fairway three-wood setting up a six-foot eagle putt – which he duly holed to win the tournament.
Having come so close to a Challenge Tour trophy in just his 13th start at that level, Meronk will be confident of going one better and joining the winners’ circle this year.
Nicolai von Dellingshausen
Despite being just ten events into his Challenge Tour career Nicolai von Dellingshausen has already shown that he has the game to flourish at this level.
The German made his Challenge Tour debut last August at the Viking Challenge, just two weeks after he made Pro Golf Tour history by becoming the first player to earn instant promotion after winning three times in one season on the satellite tour.
Von Dellighshausen’s Pro Golf Tour record made for impressive reading – three victories, three top-five finishes and two top-ten finishes in 17 starts – and the 24 year old carried that form straight onto the Road to Oman last year.
A runner-up finish behind Lengden at the Bridgestone Challenge was followed by another top ten in Ireland the following week, and von Dellingshausen continued his red-hot run in Kazakhstan in his next event, claiming a share of fifth for the largest pay cheque of his career to date.
Although still new to the professional game, he joined the paid ranks at the end of 2016 after graduating from Dusseldorf University with a degree in economics, von Dellingshausen has shown that he is a talent worth following.
After an injury-plagued 2017 Ben Stow will have to rebuild his career in 2018 – but the Englishman is no stranger to starting from the bottom.
Before a serious knee injury curtailed his progress last year, Stow was one of the most consistent performers on the Challenge Tour in 2016 – he missed just two cuts in 22 starts which helped him finish in 22nd place on the Road to Oman that year.
Stow had started 2016 with no Challenge Tour status, but a fifth-place finish his first event of the season, the Red Sea Egyptian Challenge Presented by Hassan Allam Properties, earned him a spot in the following week’s Challenge de Madrid – where he duly finished runner-up.
With a stroke average of 69.69 Stow would go on to challenge on numerous occasions in 2016, mainly at the Swedish Challenge hosted by Robert Karlsson where he had to eventually settle for tied second after narrowly missing out to Joël Stalter in a three-man play-off.
A torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered while walking down a hill has meant Stow has only just returned to the game after 13 months on the sidelines, and if he can rediscover his form, he has already shown he has all the attributes of a top player.