The European Challenge Tour gets 2007 underway with an historic visit to Colombia for the Club Colombia Masters at the Bogota Country Club this week, where 2005 US Amateur Champion Edoardo Molinari of Italy will make his professional Challenge Tour debut as he bids to join his younger brother, Telecom Italia Open winner Francesco, on The 2008 European Tour International Schedule.
Molinari, pictured, played in The 2006 Open Championship and the 2006 Masters Tournament as a result of that historic US Amateur success, and turned professional after The Open at Hoylake last year.
He is now set to make his first appearance on the Challenge Tour since joining the paid ranks, looking to continue the excellent form that earned him a share of eighth place at the recent Joburg Open on The European Tour, where he set a new course record of eight under par 64 for the East Course at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
The race for the top 20 on the Rankings is well underway with Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti setting the pace after a blistering start in the season’s first two events, the 101st Campeonato Abierto Visa de la Republica presented by Jeep and the Abierto Mexicano Corona.
Zanotti finished tied fifth in the season-opening tournament in Argentina before securing a wonderful victory in Mexico to shoot to the top of the Rankings with earning of €42,719. Another victory in Columbia would almost guarantee him a place in the 2007 Challenge Tour top 20 and a place on The European Tour.
If that is not incentive enough for the 23 year old, then the presence of Paraguay’s greatest ever golfer, Carlos Franco, a four time champion on the US PGA Tour, at the Club Colombia Masters surely will. Franco has been an International Team member on two Presidents Cups, represented Paraguay in the World Cup and was voted US PGA Tour rookie of the year in 1999.
The Challenge Tour’s partnership with the Tour de Las America’s, who will co-sanction the Club Colombia Masters, has given European players the opportunity to compete against Central and South America’s best players in Argentina, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Peru for the past four years.
This week’s visit to the outstanding Bogota Country Club represents another ground-breaking step in Challenge Tour history.