It’s 27 tournaments down and only two to go as the 2004 European Challenge Tour season draws to a close with the penultimate event of the season - the Donnington Grove Computacenter English Challenge Open, - which will determine the line up for the season’s climax at the Bouygues Telecom Grand Final.
Before the guaranteed drama of the season-ending event in Bordeaux, there are four vital rounds of golf to be played at the Donnington Grove Country Club, Newbury, England, as the Challenge Tour Members jostle for position at the top of the Rankings.
With the top 15 players at the end of the season gaining a much coveted place on The European Tour International Schedule, those players in and around the top 30 will require nerves of steel as they look for the win that can cement their places among the Challenge Tour’s elite, while the rest of the field will be pursuing that one good finish to elevate themselves into the top 45 in order to get one more shot a glory at the Golf du Médoc next week.
It all makes for a fascinating event with a number of players attempting to secure a place the upper echelons of the Challenge Tour Rankings.
One such player is England’s Sam Little. The 29 year old may have a slight advantage of knowing the Donnington Grove Country Club venue having played there on a number of occasions, but his current position of 15th on the Rankings means that he will arrive on home turf under the most intense of pressure.
“The position I am in just now makes things a little bit nerve wracking and I suppose it does affect you,” said Little, “but the one thing that you have to try and do is not think about it if that’s at all possible. I can only do what I can with my own game so there is no point in worrying about what the guys round about me may or may not do.
“At the end of the day, if I play well enough and it is good enough then great. If not, I will go to the Qualifying School and try to get my card that way – I think that’s the only way of looking at it just now to be honest.
“Donnington Grove is a really good course, the front nine is quite hilly and open and then you play a back nine which is more tree lined. I like the place and have done well there in the past – I finished second in a EuroPro Tour event there four or five years ago and I would take that same result again right now because that is exactly what I need to stay in the top 15.
“I just need one more solid week. Obviously a win would be perfect and that is what I am going to try and do. It would be great to go to the Grand Final with a little bit of room to relax because a lot can happen there as we have seen in the past.”