Wednesday, 10 October 2018
Lucas Bjerregaard Alfred Dunhill  (Getty Images)
Lucas Bjerregaard Alfred Dunhill (Getty Images)

When Lucas Bjerregaard holed the winning putt at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, it marked the 450th time a former European Challenge Tour player had won on the European Tour.

The staggering number has been assembled by 167 players — a testament to the level of quality of Challenge Tour graduates past and present.

To honour the milestone, which was fittingly achieved at The Home of Golf, we take a look back at some of the more notable wins along the way as Challenge Tour alumni now embark on the drive for 500.

The first

At the 1991 Renault Belgian Open, Per-Ulrik Johansson became the first man to come through Europe’s top developmental circuit and triumph on the European Tour. The win was no fluke either, as Johansson went on claim a total of six European Tour titles. The Swede’s breakthrough success provided the original validation for the emerging Challenge Tour, which was founded only two years earlier in 1989.

Number 100

Ian Poulter’s rise from a four handicap to a Ryder Cup superstar has been well documented, but you might be surprised to learn that the Englishman got his much-needed boost of confidence from the Challenge Tour when he won the 18th Open de Côte d’Ivoire in 1999. He used that confidence to earn three wins on the European Tour in the coming years, and when he triumphed at the Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open in 2003, he notched the 100th win by a former Challenge Tour player.

Ryder Cup stars and double-digit wins

Poulter is one of six former Challenge Tour golfers to record a double-digit European Tour trophy tally, and it might come as no surprise that the other five are Team Europe heroes as well.

Alex Noren’s ten European Tour wins followed his 2006 Rolex Trophy victory, while his teammates Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson have earned ten and eleven wins respectively after cutting their teeth on the Challenge Tour.

Captain Thomas Bjørn topped the Challenge Tour Rankings in 1995 and never looked back, contributing the highest number of wins, 15, to the 450 total.

Tommy Fleetwood, who recorded win number 400 of this run, currently has four European Tour titles to his name, but with a Race to Dubai trophy already under his belt, it may not be long before the Ryder Cup star gets into the double-digit club.

While Martin Kaymer was not on the most-recent Ryder Cup team, his 11 European Tour crowns are tied for the third-most among former Challenge Tour players, and a certain holed six-foot putt in 2012 will not soon be forgotten by any European golf fan.

Major Contributions

Of these 450 wins, ten have come at Major Championships. Louis Oosthuizen’s 2010 Open Championship victory — also at The Home of Golf — marked milestone win number 250 and in order, the players who have gone from Challenge Tour to Major Champion are:

Michael Campbell - 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2
Trevor Immelman - 2008 Masters Tournament at Augusta National
Louis Oosthuizen - 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews
Martin Kaymer - 2010 US PGA Championship at Whistling Straights
Justin Rose - 2013 U.S. Open at Merion
Martin Kaymer - 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2
Henrik Stenson - 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon
Brooks Koepka - 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills
Brooks Koepka - 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills
Brooks Koepka - 2018 US PGA Championship at Bellerive 

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