The Challenge Tour returns to Italy this week for the penultimate event of the year, the Terme Euganee International Open Padova.
With the Grand Final at Golf du Medoc in Bordeaux just two weeks away, several of the top 15 ranked players who feel their positions are safe, are taking the opportunity to rest before tackling the climax of the 2001 campaign.
However, this week provides an opportunity for those between 10th and 15th place to consolidate their positions and for those just outside the top 15 to make up ground. Simultaneously, there is the race to gain a place in the leading 45 who gain entry to the limited field Grand Final.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson, currently second, is one who is missing the tournament, as is fifth-placed Klas Eriksson from Sweden. But most of the remaining top 15 will be in action in Padova.
A field of 126, including 81 Challenge Tour ranked players, will compete for a prize fund of 114,000 euro with just under 19,000 available to the winner.
The tournament is being played over the Golf Club Padova course, situated 20km south of Padova and not far from Montecchia, scene of the Open Golf Montecchia, the fourth event of the year, won by England’s Andrew Sherborne.
The former regular tour player from England is in the field and is one who is on the cusp of gaining automatic qualification for a return to the European Tour.
The Valsanzibio course at Padova was founded in 1960 and is a popular destination for touring golfers. The course is quite flat but has a number of water hazards in the form of ponds.
However, the major problems can be found with the 8,000 trees and bushes that line the fairways, where a miss-hit shot requires a recovery to the fairway. The abundance of vegetation means that anyone attempting to cut the corner at the several dog-legs could find instant trouble.