John Mellor, who leads the Money list after three events following his victory in the opening tournament in the Ivory Coast last month, heads an impressive field in search of the £68,634 prize fund, the second largest so far this year.
It includes Magnus Persson, the Swede who ended a five-year winless spell with victory in Is Molas. He will tee-off in search of back-to-back wins but faces tough opposition from several players who have also been prominent already this season without landing the first prize.
Fredrik Lindgren of Sweden, England’s David R Jones and Warren Bennett, and Welshman David Park have been in the money in all three events so far while also in action are a host of former main Tour men eager to regain their privileges.
John Bickeron, Gary Clark, Gordon J Brand, Steven Bottomley, Neal Briggs and Stephen McAllister will all be hoping to complete an Italian job, not to mention Ross Drummond, who will be making his Challenge Tour debut having lost his card last year. Also looking forward to his first Challenge Tour outing is long-time European Tour journeyman Bill Longmuir.
The Rimini International Open is one of several new events on this year’s Challenge Tour and is being played over a newly established course. The Rimini Golf Club is situated in the wooded parkland of the Marecchia valley just a few kilometres from the town and provides superb views of San Marino, Sam Leo and Verucchio.
The par-72 course which measures 6145 metres, around 6,760 yards, has gently rolling fairways with scattered bunkers but there is an abundance of water hazards, in the shape of lakes, ponds and streams, coming into play on at least 13 holes. The prospect of a watery grave is immediate as the par five first hole winds its way in a left-hand semi-circle around a large lake.
There are two more par fives in a front nine of 37 but only one coming home, the 561-yard dog-leg 18th which returns to the well-appointed clubhouse.
Unfortunately, after this week, the Challenge Tour will be taking another break following the cancellation of the Canarias Challenge. However it is hoped to restage the tournament later in the year.