The European Challenge Tour returns to Padova in Italy this weekend after a 12 month absence, with 2001 Golf Club Padova Terme Euganee International Open champion Chris Gane admitting that a year out from the venue where he clinched his European Tour card has only made his heart grow fonder.
Gane vividly recalls pipping the recent Open de France winner, Phil Golding, to the title at Padova Golf Club by a single stroke, where his 23 under par total gave him the second victory of the 2001 season.
The 29 year old Londoner, who won over €95,000 on The European Tour International Schedule last season, played textbook golf over that October weekend to take the title – submitting his last two scorecards without a single bogey against his name.
“That’s a win I’ll always remember fondly because I gained my card for The European Tour that weekend,” he said.
“It was quite tight as well as I remember. I ended up battling out with Phil Golding and it was only really decided at the 17th on the last day when Phil bogeyed and I managed to grab a birdie and the two shot swing did it for me.
“It’s a really nice course as well – I’d say they were probably the best greens I’ve ever putted on in a Challenge Tour event. They were flawless. But it was a really nice win for me – especially seeing that it was nip and tuck until the last hole.”
With temperatures soaring in Italy – a consistent 90 degrees fahrenheit for the past few weeks – the Challenge Tour stars will be looking to keep their cool and produce yet another week of sublime scores as the race for the top of the Rankings intensifies.
No one would be happier with a victory than Massimo Scarpa. The 33 year old, who was born and bred 30 minutes from Padova in Venice, is the touring professional for the 6620 yard, par 72 Padova Golf Club. Not unnaturally, Scarpa would be a popular champion if he could capture the 2003 Terme Euganee International Open on his home turf.
“I hope so!” he said. “There will certainly be good crowds there – golf is quite popular in Padova and I think the local people will support this event.
“I have a house only ten minutes from the golf club, and in that respect it is a great week for me already, because I do not have to worry about travelling or hotel rooms or anything like that.
“In saying that, my approach to the tournament will be no different from any other week. Sure, I know the course very well, but that doesn’t guarantee you anything in golf.”