Joakim Haeggman returns to Challenge Tour action this week aiming to follow in the footsteps of one of the men he inspired to golfing glory and secure a second successive Challenge Tour victory at the inaugural DHL Wroclaw Open.
The Challenge Tour returns to Poland for the first time since 1999, when Sweden’s Niclas Fasth triumphed at the Daewoo Warsaw Golf Open, held at the Warsaw Golf International.
Fasth is one of the Challenge Tour’s most successful graduates, who won a total of four tournaments on the Challenge Tour before going on to win six European Tour titles as well as being part of the successful European Team in The 2002 Ryder Cup at The Belfry.
When Fasth began his Challenge Tour career in 1993, Haeggman was becoming the first Swede to play in The Ryder Cup, a feat that inspired a golden generation of Swedish players and instilled the requisite belief and confidence to ensure the country would continue producing European Tour champions for generations.
Now Haeggman has seen the roles reversed as he prepares to take on the Toya Golf and Country Club in a bid to add the DHL Wroclaw Open to the AGF-Allianz Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne title he won four weeks ago in France.
He said: “The win in France was important because it guaranteed my exemption on the Challenge Tour for the rest of the season, meaning I can focus most of my energies here. After 18 years on The European Tour – and this is no disrespect to the Challenge Tour – it was a bit of a step back for me.
“But this was something I felt I had to do, give it one last year to see what happened, and I’m so glad I did. The Challenge Tour has been good to me so far – I played well for three days in Argentina, and played my best golf for about two years in France.
“It is a means to an end for me, because I want to use it as a route to get back onto The European Tour. That’s where I feel I belong. My game’s slowly coming back to me, thanks mainly to the fact that I’m working with my old coach Simon Holmes again.
“My short game’s come on leaps and bounds in the last few weeks, and my putting’s slowly getting back to where it was. So the signs are good – but there’s still a long way to go.”
Joining Haeggman in the field for the €150,000 DHL Wroclaw Open are 2008 Challenge Tour winners Wil Besseling of The Netherlands and Paraguay’s Marco Ruiz.