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Friday, 19 March 2010
Challenge of Ireland  (Getty Images)
Challenge of Ireland (Getty Images)

Australia’s Andrew Tampion will head to Norway for this week’s Lexus Open attempting to become the first player of the 2008 European Challenge Tour to win back-to-back titles.

England’s David Horsey won twice in three weeks a month ago but, to date, no player has captured successive titles. Now the 23 year old from Melbourne has the chance to do just that after his excellent win in last week’s Challenge of Ireland presented by Glasson.

“Now I’ve got the confidence from winning I hope to push on and continue playing as well as I have and hopefully hole some more putts,” said Tampion, who moved up to 25th on the Challenge Tour Rankings. “I’ve never been to Norway before so it should be a good experience.”

Also making the trip north are emerging talents Jonas Blixt and Richie Ramsay who both head to head to Norway with their games in good shape following excellent performances in Athlone.

The Swede and the Scot both pushed Tampion hard over the closing stages before coming up a couple of shots short, but the fact they were in contention at the business end of the tournament was a major step in their burgeoning careers and they will both tee up at Moss & Rygge Golf Club in Dilling with hopes of further progression. 

Ramsay, the former Walker Cup player and 2006 US Amateur Champion, is looking to regain a place in the top 20 of the Challenge Tour Rankings after missing a month of the season with a rib injury.

He attributed his new found form to his improved self-belief and hours spent on the practice range, working on his putting in particular. “Sometimes my biggest problem is that I’m very hard on myself,” said the Aberdonian. “It’s amazing what a difference it makes when you go out with some confidence.

“My form is a consequence of working hard and getting sponsorship from the Craig Group in Aberdeen also helped. It’s nice when someone comes on board and says just go out and play golf and not worry about the cost of things. It’s been a big boost for me.”

Blixt will be back in Scandinavia fresh from his best finish and best round since turning professional last month, after a stunning six under par 66 in the third round in Ireland in only his second Challenge Tour event as a professional.

Another player in contention last week, England’s Richard Bland, is also in the field as is Argentine Estanislao Goya, who is looking to make up ground on the leaders in the Rankings.

Rookie Goya led the Rankings earlier in the season after winning in his homeland but had subsequently slipped back, although his tied ninth place finish last week courtesy of a final round 69 moved him back up one place to eighth.

Big crowds are expected at the Dilling venue with the bulk of the home support being enjoyed by Jan-Are Larsen who returns to action in his homeland looking to build on a fine fourth place finish in the Inteco Russian Open Golf Championship on The European Tour last month.

The 32 year old has finished in the top 20 in all four of his appearances on the Challenge Tour this season, with his sixth place at the Scottish Challenge his best return so far. Currently in 53rd place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, Larsen needs a win to move towards the all-important top 20.

This week sees the third Lexus Open and the first time it has been played at the par 72, 7050 yard Moss & Rygge Golf Club, following visits to Larvik Golf Club and Miklagard Golf Club where Kalle Brink and Martin Wiegele won respectively.

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