An illustrious list of former winners will serve as inspiration for the field at this week’s Vodafone Challenge on the European Challenge Tour.
European Tour Members Martin Kaymer and Joost Luiten can both count the Vodafone Challenge amongst their Challenge Tour titles, with the German claiming victory at the inaugural event in 2006, and the Dutchman following suit 12 months later.
Indeed, Luiten’s triumph at the Golf and Country Club An der Elfrather Mühle in Dusseldorf, Germany, last year was a record-breaking one, as the flying Dutchman produced the lowest final round by a winner in Challenge Tour history – an 11 under par 61.
Kaymer’s victory, his maiden Challenge Tour success, was perhaps less spectacular, but was made all the more emotive as the youngster hails from Dusseldorf.
Runner-up behind Kaymer in 2006 was England’s Matthew King, who will be aiming to go one better when he tees up this year at the 6,859 yards par 72 course, situated 30km north of Dusseldorf.
But King will face a strong home contingent in his pursuit of the €140,000 prize fund, with Kariem Baraka, Benjamin Miarka, Christian Reimbold and Richard Treis all hoping to emulate Kaymer’s success.
Treis is currently the top ranked German in the Rankings in 45th place, and he will be hoping home advantage helps him improve on his tied third place in the DHL Wroclaw Open – the highest finish of his fledgling Challenge Tour career.
Reimbold is equally capable of posting low scores, as illustrated by his course record-equalling 64 on the second day of the Credit Suisse Challenge.
Another emerging talent to match a course record recently was Rhys Davies, who shot a 67 on the second day of the SWALEC Wales Challenge in his homeland.
The youngster from Bridgend then followed that up with a top ten finish at the Challenge of Ireland presented by Glasson in only his fifth Challenge Tour appearance, marking him out as a player to follow in the future.
Davies said: “I only turned pro about nine months ago, so everything’s still quite new to me at the moment. I’m just starting to realise what it takes to get to the top. I had a fairly good amateur career, and I’ve tried to take the confidence I built up into my pro career.
“I’ve been steady so far, without being spectacular. I would’ve hoped for slightly better results, but at the same time I’ve played fairly consistently – I haven’t struggled by any means. I’m just waiting for something to happen now. Whether that’s next month or next year, who knows?”
If he is to prevail at the Golf and Country Club An der Elfrather Mühle, Davies will have to overcome the experienced Scottish duo of Raymond Russell and Andrew Coltart, both European Tour champions.
Other players with their sights set on the title are Argentina’s Miguel Rodriguez, already a winner on this season’s Challenge Tour, and Spain’s Carlos del Moral, who has two top five finishes to his name this year and is the highest ranked player in the field in 34th place.
|T2||GROSS JR, Stephan||GER||18||-15|
|T5||ARRUTI, Jesus Maria||ESP||18||-11|