England stages its second Challenge Tour event of the year this week when all the leading players will be in Lancashire for the Formby Hall Challenge.
A year ago this event proved something of a milestone with the longest playoff on record in terms of time, and marked the career takeoff of two Scots.
When Greg Hutcheon, a Challenge Tour regular, and Alastair Forsyth, from the Mastercard Tour, tied on 20-under-par 268, they set off on a sudden death playoff. But with darkness closing in, only one extra hole was possible which was halved in birdies.
It was then agreed to share the title but under Challenge Tour regulations there has to be a winner so the two protagonists returned to Formby Hall 18 days later to settle the issue with Hutcheon coming out on top with a birdie at the second extra hole, the third overall.
The top prize of £8,121 put Hutcheon on course to secure his tour card at the Grand Final in Cuba two months later, while a disappointed Forsyth accomplished his breakthrough at the Tour Qualifying School before emerging as a force this season on the main Tour.
The Formby Hall challenge will, once again, be a joint venture between the Challenge and Mastercard Tours, 58 of the 156-strong field coming from the latter.
The tournament, which has been in existence for four years, has been played under three previous titles. In 1996 it was the Gosen Challenge won by Greg Owen at the Warwickshire, in 1997 the BPGT Challenge won by Olivier Edmond at Wynyard Hall, and in 1998 the Mastercard Challenge won by Robert Lee at Prince’s.
This week the prize fund is £55,000 (80,000 euro), up £5,000 on last year, with £8,933 going to the winner. With the leading 15 players on the Challenge Tour Order of Merit at the end of the season earning cards to the main tour, the race for those top positions is hotting up so every euro and every pound is vital.