After a globe trotting season that has seen 29 events staged in locations as diverse as Mexico and Kazakhstan, the European Challenge Tour moves into the most important week of the 2005 season at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, where 20 of the top 45 players on the Rankings will earn a dream ticket to The 2006 European Tour International Schedule.
It has been another long, hard year at one of golf’s toughest schools, but the Challenge Tour’s elite players have still to face the most testing examination of the year at the inspirational San Domenico Golf Club.
It is there that the top 20 will be decided, and every player in the field this weekend will be feeling the huge pressure that plays such a significant role in the Challenge Tour’s final event of the season.
There are so many possibilities and permutations involving the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, but the bottom line for every player in the field is simple: Win this week and you will be a European Tour player next season.
With a €250,000 prize fund that will see €42,800 going to the winner at San Domenico, every man in the field can break into the top 20 by winning this weekend.
Depending on how the final results go, every player in the current top 20 can overhaul Number One Fredrik Widmark of Sweden at the top of the Rankings. Widmark will take some beating though, given the fact that he has been in superb form throughout the second half of the season, winning twice and notching a further three top ten finishes.
Among the favourites to catch the high flying Swede must be England’s Andrew Butterfield, who is just €282 behind Widmark in second place, while South African Michael Kirk (currently third) is also within touching distance of claiming that prestigious Challenge Tour Number One spot.
Such a prestigious event deserves a prestigious venue, and the San Domenico Golf Club, a fantastic links course by the Adriatic Sea, is an outstanding setting to determine the best of the best from the Challenge Tour’s elite 45 players.
The San Domenico Golf Club lies between the ancient Greek colony of Egnathia, which dates back to the fifth century BC, and the small fishing village of Savelletri.
Designed by European Golf Design, the par 72 course measures 6416 metres and has been constructed to the highest standards, with greens conforming to USGA specifications. As with any true links course, the wind blowing in from the Adriatic will play a huge part in the test presented by San Domenico, and the Challenge Tour players who make it to the Apulia Grand Final are set to discover a wonderfully challenging final hurdle in the race to finish Number One on the 2005 Rankings.
The name ‘Apulia’ in the tournament title is the Puglia region’s former name, and highlights the Roman influence in this wonderful region of southern Italy that is steeped in history and tradition.
After travelling the world in pursuit of their golfing dreams this season, each and every one of the Challenge Tour’s top 45 will be hoping to write their own piece of history in Italy this week.