Peter Gustafsson will be leaving nothing to chance this week when he returns to Colombia to defend the Abierto Internacional de Copa II Copa Antioquia in Medellin, which heralds the start of the 2010 European Challenge Tour season.
The 33 year old Swede won the event in 2009 when it was sanctioned by the Tour de las Americas only, having entered at the last minute following a casual phone conversation with his friend and countryman, Fredrik Widmark.
Not only did Gustafsson win the tournament, that victory was the springboard towards capturing the Tour de las Americas Order of Merit title after two other top ten finishes and a tied 15th place.
One year on, the Abierto Internacional de Copa II Copa Antioquia at Club Deportivo El Rodeo is co-sanctioned by both the Challenge Tour and the Tour de las Americas for the first time, and Gustafsson cannot wait to return to Colombia for his title defence.
He recalled: “Last year was my first time in Colombia and it was kind of a coincidence that I played it. “My friend, Fredrik Widmark, phoned me to ask if I was playing in the Club Colombia Masters which was a Challenge Tour event in 2009.
“When I said I was, he asked me if I wanted to go a week early and play another tournament in Colombia on the Tour de las Americas. So I contacted the tournament organisers and they got me in the field at the last minute and then I ended up winning it so it worked out very well.
“I just like it a lot over there. I’m living in Spain at the moment and speaking Spanish and South America is very similar. There are lots of nice people so I’m really looking forward to the trip.”
Gustafsson is bullish about his chances this year, adding: “My main goal is to win the Challenge Tour and I’m also aiming to win one of the European Tour events I’m playing in this season. Last season I had a very bad category and it was very difficult to plan anything. But this year is much better. I can plan much more so I’ve just had six weeks of very good practice and I’m feeling great.”
Meanwhile Argentina’s Alan Wagner will pin his hopes on history repeating itself this week. Wagner launched the 2009 campaign with a one-shot victory in the event Gustafsson originally entered, the Club Colombia Masters presentado por Personal. Victory in Bogota meant he became the youngest player to win an event co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour and the Tour de las Americas at just 19 years, seven months and 14 days.
He went on to record top ten finishes at the Trophée du Golf de Genève and the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final but had to settle for 23rd place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, narrowly missing out on earning a European Tour card.
Now, a year older and wiser, Wagner embarks on his second season on the Challenge Tour, looking for an even stronger, more consistent campaign, starting at Club Deportivo El Rodeo in Medellin where a $220,000 prize fund is on offer.
Also travelling to South America for the 2010 Challenge Tour curtain-raiser are Paraguay’s Marco Ruiz, Frenchman Julien Guerrier, Finland’s Roope Kakko and Englishman Lee James, who all triumphed on the Challenge Tour last season.
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