The European Challenge Tour will return to the Canary Islands after a 12-year absence for this week’s Fred Olsen Challenge de España.
The fourth and final edition of the Canarias Challenge was played in 1997 at Las Palmas, and the picturesque coastal course at Tecina Golf on the island of La Gomera will now make its debut on the Challenge Tour schedule.
The €150,000 Fred Olsen Challenge de España, which this year celebrates its tenth edition, will again carry a strong home challenge.
Experienced campaigners such as Jesus Maria Arruti, Luis Claverie and 1999 champion Carl Suneson will be joined by some of the rising stars of Spanish golf, including Jorge Campillo, who finished in a tie for fifth place in the Credit Suisse Challenge earlier in the season and inside the top 50 in the KLM Open on The European Tour two weeks ago.
Tenerife resident Claverie has winning form at Tecina Golf, having triumphed in an event played there on the Spanish National Tour last year.
Arruti, a veteran of no fewer than 20 visits to The European Tour Qualifying School, finished eighth in the same event, and he believes the Challenge Tour’s Membership will enjoy playing the 6,937 yards, par 71 course.
He said: “The greens there are very good, and it’s a very nice course overall, with some great views across the ocean. But it can also be quite windy sometimes because it’s right on the coast, so it won’t be easy for the players. It’s a very nice part of the world, so I’m really looking forward to going back there. It’s always nice to play in your home country, and after playing quite well in Poland last week, I’m confident I can do well again this week.”
The course offers some spectacular views across the Atlantic Ocean to Mount Teide, the third largest volcano in the world. The majority of the holes play downhill towards the sea, with the difference between the highest and lowest points on the course measuring 175 metres.
Some of the leading fancies this week include Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and England’s Richard McEvoy, both of whom finished in the top 17 in last week’s DHL Wroclaw Open, which was won by Scotland’s Eric Ramsay.
Also in action are four players who have already tasted victory on the 2009 European Challenge Tour; Rhys Davies, Christoph Günther, Lee James and Alan Wagner.
Two of last year’s top 20 – the English duo of Stuart Davis and Marcus Higley - also return to Challenge Tour duty.
For the first time the Challenge de España will be sponsored by cruise company Fred Olsen, with additional support from the Royal Spanish Golf Federation and the Canarian Government.