The European Challenge Tour resumes this week with the OKI Telepizza Challenge at Golf del Guadiana in Spain. This is a joint venture with the OKI Telepizza Tour of Spain, the country's National circuit, and consequently presents a major test for all Challenge Tour members.
The 156-strong field contains more than its usual gallery of star names. In fact, a quick glance could leave you mistakenly to think that this is a main Tour event.
Miguel Angel Jiménez, winner of the recent Turespaña Masters - Open Andalucía in Malaga, heads a strong line-up that also includes Ryder Cup men José Rivero and Ignacio Garrido as well as a host of other leading Spanish players. Alvaro Salto, the last Spaniard to win on the Challenge Tour when he took the Eulen Open Galea in Bilbao last September, is also in the line-up as well as several other former winners of Challenge Tour titles.
Maarten Lafeber of Holland who won the Tusker Kenya Open, the opening event on this year's Challenge Tour, two weeks ago, will tee-off as leader of the Order of Merit following his success at Muthaiga and renew his rivalry with Erik Andersson, second in Nairobi, and Jorgen Aker, another Swede who was always in the hunt.
Britons, Richard Bland, David Park, John Hawksworth and Scott Watson, all in the top-10 in Nairobi, will be hoping to improve on that over a course that saw a British winner on the last occasion it hosted a European Tour event.
That was five years ago, in February 1994, when the Open de Extremadura was played at Golf del Guadiana and Paul Eales, himself a Challenge Tour graduate, won his first European Tour title.
Situated some five kilometres outside Badajoz, near the Portuguese border, the 6,980-yards, par 72 course was designed by Daniel Calero Gonzalez with José Maria Cañizares, now a successful member of the European Seniors Tour.
The OKI Telepizza Challenge has a Saturday finish and carries a prize fund of 63,000 euros.