Felipe Aguilar, current Number One on the European Challenge Tour Rankings, heads an impressive entry list for one of the most eagerly anticipated tournaments of the season, the Kazakhstan Open at the Nurtau Golf Club in Almaty.
The Chilean cemented his pole position with victory in last week’s OKI Mahou Challenge de España to move to €111,674, almost €30,000 ahead of his nearest challenger, Frenchman Michael Lorenzo-Vera.
It was Aguilar’s second victory of the season, following his initial success in the POSTBANK Challenge presented by Marcel Siem at the end of August, and, of course, should he win again, he will gain automatic promotion to The European Tour by virtue of a third success.
However, the 32 year old from Santiago is not the only player in that situation. In total there have been six two time winners on the European Challenge Tour during 2007 and all of the other five – England’s Robert Dinwiddie (fourth in the rankings), Joost Luiten of The Netherlands (fifth), England’s Ross McGowan (sixth), Italy’s Edoardo Molinari (seventh) and England’s Iain Pyman (12th) – will line up in Kazakhstan.
While automatic promotion is the goal for the six this week, the ultimate aim is to finish in the top 20 at the end of the season and gain playing privileges for The 2008 European Tour International Schedule by right.
Going a long way to help them achieve that is the prize money on offer for the third staging of the Kazakhstan Open, a total purse of €330,000 which represents the richest prize fund in a stand-alone Challenge Tour event in the history of the European Challenge Tour, and from which the winner will receive a cheque for €52,800.
Considering the player currently in 20th place on the Rankings, England’s Peter Baker, currently has €46,202 to his name, the importance of a victory come Sunday night is easily apparent.