The European Challenge Tour has today announced its 2018 schedule which features three new events in Europe.
Europe’s top developmental tour will visit up to 23 different countries in 2018, with all players chasing a spot in the top 15 on the Order of Merit and graduation to the European Tour.
Up to a maximum of 29 tournaments will feature on the 2018 schedule, taking place over three continents in eight months, beginning in March at the Barclays Kenya Open.
Muthaiga Golf Club will once again host the sole African event on the Challenge Tour roster, which will this year become the tour’s most lucrative tournament with a €500,000 prize fund.
Following the Challenge Tour’s traditional curtain-raiser in Kenya is the Turkish Airlines Challenge in April, which will kick-off a run of 27 consecutive tournaments.
After Turkey will be the first ever ‘Iberian Swing’, which sees the Open de Portugal bookended by the Challenge de España and the innovative Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9 – the match play meets stroke play event returns after a successful first staging last year.
One of two trips to the Czech Republic closes out May, before a busy June includes visits to Switzerland, Belgium, Scotland and Denmark, where Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort will stage a Challenge Tour event for the first time since 1998.
The Prague Golf Challenge kicks off July, followed by ventures to future Ryder Cup host nations France and Italy for the Italian Challenge and Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge.
At the end of the month the Challenge Tour will return to Adamstal Golf Club in Austria for the first time in ten years for the Euram Bank Open, one of three new tournaments this season.
Starting August is a fortnight in Scandinavia for the Swedish Challenge hosted by Robert Karlsson and the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge, before the Challenge Tour arrives at Galgorm Castle for one of the most popular events of the season, the Northern Ireland Open.
The end of August is once again occupied by the Rolex Trophy, which continues as the longest-running Challenge Tour tournament, with Golf Club de Geneve hosting Europe’s top developmental tour for the 28th time.
During September the Challenge Tour will visit England twice – the Bridgestone Challenge will start the month while a new English event will close out the month.
Also taking place in September is the Cordon Golf Open, the prestigious Kazakhstan Open, which celebrates its 14th anniversary this year, and a new event in Europe – location to be confirmed.
Kick-starting October is the Irish Challenge, which is followed by an exciting fortnight in China for the Hainan Open and the Foshan Open – the Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge and the Challenge Tour Grand Final will then bring the curtain down on the 2018 season.
Players who compete in the European Tour’s Rocco Forte Open – Verdura, the Belgian Knockout and the Shot Clock Masters will be able to earn Challenge Tour Rankings points through their performances in those events.
For the first time money made at both the U.S. Open and the Open Championship will count towards the Challenge Tour Rankings, with players being awarded points equivalent to 10% of prize money won.
“With the addition of two new events and an increase in prize money, we have a very promising 2018 schedule in front of us,” said Alain de Soultrait, Challenge Tour Director.
“Over the years we have built a strong reputation for developing and growing the game, and by getting to the point where we now have such a consistent run of events reflects the strength of the Challenge Tour.
“Each year the Challenge Tour unearths the next generation of superstars, and it is vital that these players are given the opportunity to learn their craft by competing week in, week out on our tour.
“Last year two of our graduates won on the European Tour, with five others also managing to retain their playing rights in what was the most competitive season in recent memory.
“We must extend special thanks to the national federations, promoters, sponsors and partners. Without their continued support the Challenge Tour would not exist, let alone thrive and grow as it currently does.
“Finally, we wish the very best of luck to all our Members and an enjoyable season to all our fans."
You can see the full 2018 schedule here