England international David Dixon makes his Challenge Tour debut this week in the Formby Hall Challenge in Lancashire. The 24 year old from Somerset, who won the silver medal as leading amateur in the 130th Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes turned professional and made his European Tour debut in The Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open earlier this month.
Now he has been invited to compete in his maiden Challenge Tour event as has Scotland's David Patrick, a member of the victorious Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team at Nairn in 1999.
The field of 156, split between the Challenge and MasterCard Tours, includes four of this year's Challenge Tour champions, Grant Hamerton, Chris Gane, Andrew Sherborne, and Kenneth Ferrie, as well as the leading MasterCard players. This will be the sixth time the tournament has been played and the third under the present title, while four venues have been the scene of some epic contests since the inaugural event was staged in 1996.
Almost every Formby Hall Challenge champion has gone on to The European Tour, the first winner in 1996, Greg Owen, having become a high-class performer since his victory at The Warwickshire. He was followed in 1997 by Olivier Edmond who won at Wynyard Hall, and in 1998 when Robert Lee, now a TV pundit triumphed at Prince's.
With eight events left on this year's Challenge Tour, the Formby Hall Challenge represents the start of the run-in for the leading 15 positions on the Ranking who earn their European Tour cards at the end of the season. The race is hotting up and at this time of the year every euro is vital.