Former Ryder Cup player Peter Baker of England will seek his second success in the Credit Suisse Challenge when he tees up in the sixth edition of the €140,000 event this week.
Baker has fond memories of his first visit to Wylihof Golf Club in Luterbach, Switzerland, where in 2007 he held off a final day charge by Scotland’s Andrew McArthur to capture his maiden Challenge Tour title.
His one-shot victory, which he later added to in the AGF Allianz Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne, set Baker on the road to 12th place in the final Challenge Tour Rankings, which in turn secured him a return to The European Tour.
Baker, three times a winner on The European Tour, will now hope history repeats itself when tackles the 7,202 yards, par 73 course for the second time.
The 41 year old, who represented Europe at The Belfry in The 1993 Ryder Cup, said: “It’s always great to go back to a tournament which you’ve won in the past, so I’m sure I’ll have a bit of a spring in my step. Any victory is always nice, but to win my first Challenge Tour event by shooting 67 on the final day was pretty special.
“It was a great week – the course is set in a lovely part of the world – and I’m looking forward to going back. Obviously I didn’t play last year because I got my European Tour card back, so in a way I’m going back as the defending champion! If I can make it two out of two, I’ll be a very happy man. My season’s got off to a bit of a slow start so it could probably do with a bit of a kick-start, and hopefully it comes in Switzerland.”
Baker’s compatriot Andrew Butterfield gave his season a spectacular kick-start by taking the €48,000 first prize at The Princess last week.
Butterfield will head to Switzerland hoping for back to back victories, having waited 13 years to claim his maiden Challenge Tour title.
Fellow Englishman John E Morgan will play his first regular Challenge Tour event of the season, having struggled to make the most of his recent opportunities on The European Tour, which he earned through finishing 17th in the 2008 Rankings.
Another Englishman, Stuart Davis, finished 20th in the Rankings to take the last available European Tour card, and he too will head to Switzerland intent on rediscovering the sort of form which saw him finish in a tie for 15th place at the Open de España earlier this season.
Davis’ fellow European Tour Members Antti Ahokas of Finland and Sweden’s Åke Nilsson will head to Switzerland in good heart, having both thrived on the Challenge Tour of late – the former finished tied ffith in The Princess last week, whilst the latter recorded successive top ten finishes in Ireland and Saint Omer.
England’s Zane Scotland is another player on an upward curve, having last week recorded his first top 25 finish since the Ballantine’s Championship last March, where he finished in a tie for 11th place.
Three months later Scotland suffered a wrist injury whilst playing the BMW International Open, and he is now rebuilding his career – and his body – for a second time, having dislodged two vertebrae in a car crash in 2003.
His compatriot Danny Denison is also rehabilitating from a serious injury, having suffered a severely broken leg in a car crash in Austria almost two years ago.
Despite sometimes struggling to negotiate the hilly terrain in Saint Omer, the 24 year old Englishman made the cut on his third appearance since returning to action, and he will now have high hopes of continuing his comeback in the Credit Suisse Challenge.
The Swiss challenge will be led by Julien Clément, who was the highest home finisher 12 months ago when he finished in a tie for fifth place, and Martin Rominger, 18th in The Princess last week.
Other notable names in the field include Camilo Villegas’ younger brother Manny, who made his Challenge Tour debut on home soil earlier this season, finishing in a tie for 11th place at the Club Colombia Masters presentado por Samsung.