Monday, 11 October 1999
The Challenge Tour Grand Final to be played at Varadero Golf Club in Cuba, October 28-31, will bring the curtain down on the Challenge Tour's 11th season which began in the heat of Nairobi with the Tusker Kenya Open in early March.

Over the past eight months the Tour has visited 16 different countries for 27 tournaments. The Grand Final will be the 28th event, and Cuba the 17th country, to witness the skills of the Challenge Tour's multi-national playing members.

The Challenge Tour Grand Final draws a line under the season. It is the Challenge Tour's equivalent of the main Tour's Volvo Masters although it involves just the leading 45 players on the rankings.

Unlike the Volvo Masters it has a much shorter history, having been in existence only since 1995. All four Grand Finals to date have been played in Portugal; the first two at Quinta do Peru, near Setubal, being won respectively by Francis Valera of Spain and England's Ian Garbutt.

In 1997, the tournament moved to Montado, also near Setubal, where Nicolas Joakimides of France triumphed in an event cut to 54 holes due to thunderstorms. Then a year ago it took a four-hole playoff before Jorge Berendt of Argentina edged home against England's Warren Bennett at Club de Golf de Belas, near Lisbon.

All of these winners earned their cards to the main Tour and this year's Grand Final champion is almost certain to do the same. For the Grand Final is not only a method of rounding off the season but it brings together all the leading players to finalise who finishes in the top 15 in the rankings and gains automatic promotion to the main Tour.

Also, those who finish ranked 16th and below are guaranteed places at the Tour's Qualifying School next month in Spain.

So Cuba won't be just an end-of-season soirée in the sunshine of Cuba. It is a serious finale with everything to play for.

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