Monday, 29 November 2004
The European Challenge Tour continues to forge a strong relationship with the Tour de las Americas at this week’s Panasonic Panama Open – the second leg of the three week visit to Latin America which launches the 2005 Challenge Tour Schedule.

The Panasonic Panama Open will be played at the magnificent Coronado Beach and Resort, a new venue for the Challenge Tour on its second visit to a country which has coastline running along both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean – not to mention one of the world’s most famous canals.

Last season, Miguel Fernandez of Argentina won the Panama Masters after a sudden-death play-off with Welshman Mark Pilkington. That shoot-out was a perfect reflection of the partnership between the Challenge Tour and the Tour de las Americas, with players from both Europe and Latin America – and beyond – providing fresh and exciting competition where they can thrive and develop.

A similar scenario can be expected at the Coronado Beach and Resort this weekend with so many quality European and Latin American players in the field for the Panasonic Panama Open.

After finishing third and fourth respectively at the 47th Abierto Mexicano de Golf last weekend, Irishman David Higgins and England’s James Heath will be looking to build on their excellent starts to the 2005 Challenge Tour season.

Higgins, a three time winner on the Challenge Tour in 2000, finished behind Rafael Gomez of Argentina and Columbia’s Eduardo Herrera at the Club de Golf de Hacienda, while Heath put on an outstanding show in his first outing as a professional – firing four rounds under 70 to take fourth spot.

Norway’s Jan Are Larsen and Tom Whitehouse of England are also noticeable European names in the field, with Larsen having won his playing rights for The 2005 European Tour International Schedule at the recent Qualifying School Finals and Whitehouse a 2004 Challenge Tour winner at the Estoril Challenge Open Portugal Telecom at the beginning of October.

Among the leading names from Latin America are those of the Argentine trio of Sebastian Fernandez, Cesar Monasterio and Daniel Vancsik – all three of whom began their careers on the Tour de las Americas before joining the Challenge Tour with great success.

Both Fernandez and Monasterio graduated to The 2004 European Tour after a year on the Challenge Tour – Fernandez through the Challenge Tour Rankings and Monasterio at the 2003 Qualifying School Finals – while Vanscik has won the Abierto Telefonica in Guatemala for the past two years.

Whoever emerges at the top of the Panasonic Panama Open leaderboard come Sunday night, the event is sure to be yet another successful chapter in the growing relationship between the Challenge Tour and the Tour de las Americas.

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