Mats Lanner will take control of the Telia Challenge Waxholm for the second time in his career this week, but instead of commanding the tournament from the fairways, as he did when he won the event in 1998, the Swede will be the man in charge off the course as he completes his journey from European Challenge Tour tournament winner to European Challenge Tour Tournament Director.
Lanner secured the last of his 19 professional victories at the 1998 Telia Grand Prix and has since become an invaluable member of The European Tour’s field staff, officiating as a Tour Referee and now as a Tournament Director on the Challenge Tour.
He will take charge of running the Telia Challenge Waxholm at the Waxholm Golf Club eight years after defeating Norway’s Morten Backhausen and his fellow Swede Per G Nyman in a sudden-death play-off by chipping in at the first extra hole.
Lanner is relishing his new role as a Tournament Director, which will see him handing over the Telia Challenge Waxholm trophy as opposed to receiving it come Sunday afternoon.
Having competed at the top level for 19 years and won four times on the Challenge Tour and three times on The European Tour, Lanner commands the respect of professional players at any level, which is an invaluable asset when it comes to running tournaments.
“One of the great credits to The European Tour is the fact that we have guys who played on Tour now working at events and running events,” said Lanner.
“It has worked well for both parties. Myself, Neil Briggs, Paul Carrigill and David Williams all work for the Tour now, and we all understand exactly how the players feel and the players know that we have been through exactly what they are going through so there is a good level of respect from the players towards us.”
Since joining The Tour’s field staff in 2003, Lanner has come to appreciate the amount of work that goes into organising and running a top level tournament as he made the transition from player to Tournament Director.
“As a player you don’t know how much work goes on behind the scenes and the amount of time and effort that people put in,” he continued.
“If you knew that, then you would probably be a little bit more humble towards the people who are running the tournament. But that’s the way players are and they have to be like that in many ways because they are focused on themselves and their own games – although that doesn’t mean some of them can’t be a bit more understanding to the fact that things are not always perfect.
“As a player, I probably spent about eight hours a day at the tournament, but as a Tournament Director you do at least 13 hours and that can go up to 16 hours a day. Plus, as a player, you can decide to cut the day short and take the afternoon off if you want, but I don’t have that option as a Tournament Director. At least I never miss the cut now!”
With the Challenge Tour’s top four players, Johan Axgren of Sweden, Spain’s Juan Parron, Alexander Noren, also of Sweden, and England’s Marcus Higley all taking part at the Waxholm Golf Club this week, the field for the Telia Challenge Waxholm is particularly strong, with just six events remaining on the 2006 Challenge Tour Schedule.