The European Challenge Tour players looking for inspiration for this week’s Morson International Pro-Am Challenge at the Marriott Worsley Park Hotel & CC in Manchester need only look at what happened at the same venue 12 months ago, when Englishman Lee Slattery embarked on the astounding run of form that took him all the way to being crowned Challenge Tour Number One for 2004.
It was at the JJB North West Challenge, held at the Marriott Worsley Park that Slattery finished in second place behind Sweden’s Fredrik Henge and signalled the beginning of a sensational sequence of results – seven top five finishes in just 11 events – that secured him a place on The 2005 European Tour.
Slattery never looked back from there, going on to take third place at the Ryder Cup Wales Challenge at Northop Golf and Country Club, second at the Rolex Trophy at Club de Genève, Geneva, Switzerland and second again at the Fontana Golf, Vienna, Austria, in the BA-CA Golf Open presented by Telekom Austria.
By this stage, everyone associated with the Challenge Tour knew of Slattery’s immense talent. The only remaining question was whether or not could he go all the way and win an event, a query that he answered just seven days after coming second in Austria by taking the Telia Grand Prix title at the Ljunghusens Golf Club in Sweden.
In the space of eight weeks, Slattery’s ability, dedication and desire had brought him from nowhere to become a Challenge Tour champion – and he didn’t stop there, not now that he was on the tail of Italy’s Alessandro Tadini for the honour of becoming Challenge Tour Number One.
A tie for third at the Golf de Toulouse-Palmola during the Open de Toulouse ensured the 27 year old was snapping at Tadini’s heels going into the last event of the season, and he finished the job in style, taking fifth place at the Bougyues Telecom Grand Final to leapfrog the Italian at the top of the Rankings and finish the season on top of the pile with earnings of €95,979.
If Slattery’s story does not inspire the current crop of Challenge Tour players, then nothing will. The Englishman, who began 2004 playing on the Third Level Europro Tour, is walking, talking proof of what can be achieved if you have the ability and dedication to make the most of Challenge Tour’s rewarding structure.
The course, designed by Ross McMurray and Michael King of European Golf Design, saw 135 acres of farmland outside Manchester transformed into an exciting and challenging lay-out.
Utilising indigenous water features, as well as creating new ponds and wetlands, the 6611 yard, 71 track requires brains rather than brute strength to score well.
The Morson International Pro-Am Challenge will be played under regular conditions for the first two days, after which each of the 60 professionals (plus ties) to make the cut will be paired with an Amateur partner over the final two rounds, with the professionals competing for a prize fund of €150,000, as well as the Pro-Am team prize on offer.