In-form Frenchman Alexandre Kaleka will hope to revive memories of his victory on home soil last season when he tees up at this week’s ALLIANZ Europen de Strasbourg-Golf de la Wantzenau.
Kaleka won on his professional debut last year at another ALLIANZ-sponsored event, the Golf Open de Lyon, but was unable to build on his fine start and narrowly missed out on graduation to The European Tour at the end of the season.
After an impressive run of recent results, including third place at the Rolex Trophy, Kaleka currently sits in tenth place in the Challenge Tour Rankings; and another strong performance at this week’s €150,000 event – which is the final tournament before the lucrative Kazakhstan Open – would bolster his claims for a place on The 2011 Race to Dubai.
Kaleka will not have the advantage of local knowledge, having never before played the 6,887 yards, par 72 course at Golf de La Wantzenau, but should be able to count on some local support.
He said: “I’ve never played the course before, but I’ve heard from some of the guys who have that it’s very nice, with quite a lot of water. I’ve been playing very well for the last few weeks, so I’m confident of getting another good result. I’ve played quite well since the start of the season, but any time I missed the cut I only seemed to miss it by one shot. So it’s been quite frustrating. At the English Challenge I only made the cut by one shot, and I ended up finishing fourth. So just one shot can sometimes make such a difference, because I often play my best golf at the weekend.
“Hopefully that’s the case in Strasbourg, because it would be great to win again in France. If I can play well there and then in Kazakhstan, hopefully it should be enough to finish in the top ten of the Rankings and get onto The European Tour. It’s not going to be easy, but I’ll try my hardest.
"Last year I don’t think I was quite ready to step up, but this year I have more experience so I think I’m ready. I don’t know what it will be like on The European Tour because I’ve never played a main Tour event before, so it might take a year or two for me to know whether I’m ready to play at that level. But I’m confident I can do well.”
A number of Kaleka’s fellow Frenchmen have claims on their best form, in particular dual Open de France champion Jean-François Remesy.
His compatriot Julien Guerrier will head to Strasbourg in good heart, having performed with distinction on The European Tour last week in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, where he finished in joint 19th place.
Michael Lorenzo-Vera, who pipped England’s Ross McGowan to the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2007, is another player hoping to recapture some of his old sparkle.
The ALLIANZ Europen de Strasbourg appears on the schedule for the first time since 1998, when John Senden of Australia – who would later triumph on the US PGA Tour – claimed his second Challenge Tour title.
Set in the heart of the picturesque Alsace region in the east of France, Golf de la Wantzenau rewards accuracy, with most fairways lined by trees and with a number of water hazards strategically positioned to punish errant shots.