Belgium’s Nicolas Vanhootegem will again carry the home nation’s hopes when he tees up at this week’s Telenet Trophy on the European Challenge Tour.
On the back of a sound showing at the SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by NEUFLIZE OBC in France, where he finished 14th, the defending champion heads to Limburg Golf and Country Club in Houthalen, Belgium, in good heart.
Last year, at Royal Waterloo Golf Club – his home course – Vanhootegem used his local knowledge to good effect when holding off the challenge of Chile’s Felipe Aguilar, who subsequently progressed to, and indeed won on, The European Tour, in 2008.
Along with Didier de Vooght, fourth last year, Vanhootegem’s fellow Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, who is also attached to Royal Waterloo Golf Club, is another player with designs on the Telenet Trophy.
The talented 25 year old, who finished tied eighth last year, has played himself into contention a number of times this season – most notably at the AGF-Allianz Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne, which he led at the mid-way point – but has been unable to capture his first European Tour title.
Outside the home challenge, England’s Robert Coles, Scotland’s David Drysdale, Argentina’s Cesar Monasterio, and the German duo of Benjamin Miarka and Richard Treis will all arrive in Belgium brimming with confidence, having performed creditably in St. Omer.
For a long time Coles had looked the likely winner, until three bogeys on the back nine cost him dearly.
Meanwhile Drysdale recovered from a dispiriting start – posting an opening round of 78, during the course of which he also fell down a pothole – to surge through the field and claim a share of seventh place.
Finishing behind Drysdale was Wil Besseling, already a winner on the Challenge Tour this season. The Dutchman also recovered from an indifferent start at the Aa St. Omer Golf Club to finish in the top 30, and will again be a forced to be reckoned with in Houthalen.
Other notable names in pursuit of the €140,000 prize fund include Besseling’s fellow 2008 Challenge Tour champions Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland, Marco Ruiz of Paraguay and Alessandro Tadini of Italy, all of whom finished inside the top 20 at St. Omer.
Ruiz was particularly impressive on the final day, carding six birdies en route to a round of 68 and a tie for 12th place.
The greens at Limburg Golf and Country Club have undergone major renovation work since the 6,729 yards, par 72 course first hosted the inaugural Telenet Trophy in 2006, when Finland’s Toni Karjalainen claimed the title.
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