The international diversity of the European Challenge Tour will once again be highlighted this week as the season moves on from Central America to Africa for the Stanbic Zambia Open at Lusaka Golf Club, Zambia.
Like The European Tour, the make-up of the Challenge Tour is truly international, has no geographical limitations and embraces different cultures throughut the season. The Stanbic Zambia Open marks the first part of the two-leg African Swing which also incorporates next week's Kenya Open.
The Stanbic Zambia Open was a momentous event on the 2003 Schedule, and the Challenge Tour’s class of 2004 should be well aware that it was on the lush fairways of the Lusaka Golf Club that last year’s Challenge Tour Number One Johan Edfors began his march to the top of the Rankings.
The Swede, now cutting his teeth on The European Tour International Schedule, picked up his maiden professional victory at the Stanbic Zambia Open and didn’t look back.
Edfors’s win gave him the psychological edge to go on and dominate the Rankings, and he will always look back upon that victory as the weekend that fast tracked his career path in the direction of The European Tour.
“Winning in Zambia just confirmed that I could put in a good challenge to try and get my card for The European Tour,” recalled the Swede.
“It was my first win and I was surprised at how much easier tournament golf became after that – I felt a lot less pressure going into events. Before I had won anything, I was going into events thinking about too many different things – if I would play well, or make the cut or if I would be going home after two days.
“But after you win once, your attitude changes immediately and you approach tournaments in a different way. You go there to win and not think about anything else because you know you are capable of winning.
“So it was very important for me to win early in the season because that made me realise that I had a chance of doing well.
“It also lets the other players know that I can win, which I feel is important psychologically because they take more notice of you on the leaderboard and it gains you respect as well, which matters to me. It is always nice when people know you and what you can do.”
Sunday will see the crowning of a new Stanbic Zambia Open Champion, and whoever takes the title will have no better example to follow than that of Edfors.
The Stanbic Zambia Open will be the fourth event of the season after the hugely successful ‘Central American Swing’ last month, where Miguel Fernandez of Argentina, Italy’s Alessandro Tadini and Argentinian Daniel Vancsik registered respective victories in the Panama Masters 2004, the Costa Rica Open and the Telefonica Centro America Guatemala Open.