The biggest purse so far this season, 152,500 euro, will be on offer when the Challenge Tour makes its first visit of the year to France for the 5th Aa Saint Omer Open.
The tournament is, as in 2000, a tri-sanctioned event between the Challenge Tour, the Mastercard Tour, and the French Golf Federation, the 156-strong field being divided between the three organisations.
This will be the fifth running of the tournament but only the second year that it has formed part of the Challenge Tour schedule. A year ago, Pascal Edmond took the title with a closing round of 64 to edge out fellow Frenchman Franck Aumonier, with another Frenchman, Nicolas Joakimides joint third with England’s James Healey.
Edmond will be defending the title, while two other French winners from last year’s Challenge Tour, Renaud Guillard and Richard Gillot, will also be in action along with all of this season’s champions, Ashley Roestoff from South Africa, England’s Mark Foster and Andrew Sherborne, and the Scottish pair of Euan Little and Greig Hutcheon.
Whoever comes out on top this week will expect to be in the running for a Tour card at the end of the season. There is a first prize of over 25,000 euro (over £15,000), which would provide a platform towards a player finishing in the top 15 come November.
However, it isn’t a guarantee as Edmond went on to finish ranked 36th despite his superb triumph last June.
The Val course at St Omer was opened in 1990 and is the work of Dudock Van Heel. With a par of 73 and measuring 6,294 metres (6,885 yards) it is a testing, parkland layout, and as the name suggests, it is built largely in a valley.
However, there is a hilly aspect to the course while many of the holes wind their way through woods and across the occasional stream. High above the course sits the well equipped clubhouse and because of its undulating nature, the wind is often a factor at St Omer.
The course has a certain pedigree, underlined by the fact that it has staged the French Professional Championship on two occasions despite its young age.