Fresh from his runner-up finish at last week’s English Challenge, high-flying amateur prospect Tommy Fleetwood has now set his sights on the Kazakhstan Open, which takes place just weeks after he joins the professional ranks.
Fleetwood came agonisingly close to becoming only the fourth amateur to win on the Challenge Tour, but ultimately had to settle for a tie for second place after missing a short par putt on the final green which would have forced a play-off with the eventual winner, Daniel Gaunt of Australia.
The forthcoming Home Internationals will mark the final competitive appearance of an illustrious amateur career – he came close to becoming the youngest winner of the Amateur Championship when losing in the final in 2008 – before Fleetwood embarks on his professional career next month.
The 19 year old’s first professional appearance will come on The European Tour at the Čeladna Czech Open from August 19-22, three weeks before he tees up on a sponsor’s invitation at the Kazakhstan Open, which will again carry the biggest prize fund on the Challenge Tour.
The €400,000 tournament returns to Zhailjau Golf Resort in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from September 9-12 after the success of last year’s event, which was won by Italian Edoardo Molinari, who later went on to break the Challenge Tour record for earnings in a season.
Fleetwood, who was a leading member of England’s victorious side at the recent European Amateur Team Championships, said: “I really enjoyed playing the English Challenge last week, and whilst I was obviously disappointed to lose by one shot in the end, I can still be proud of how well I played. I got the invitation through the English Golf Union and would’ve loved to have repaid them for everything they’ve done for me with a win, but it wasn’t to be.
“But I still proved to myself that I can compete with the guys on the Challenge Tour, which has some of the best young players in the world, so the fact that I didn’t feel overawed gives me a lot of confidence for the future. Hopefully I can get some more invitations to play on The European and Challenge Tours, because the more experience I get, the more my game will continue to improve.
“The Kazakhstan Open is the biggest tournament on the Challenge Tour so I’m obviously delighted to be playing, and would like to thank the promoters for offering me an invite. My friend Sam Hutsby played the tournament last year and he told me the course was in great condition, so I can’t wait to see it for myself.
“I’ve played across Europe in my amateur days and now I’m really looking forward to travelling around the world in my professional career, starting with the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan. Having seen how well Sam’s settled into life on The European Tour and how well the likes of Matt Haines and Charlie Ford have done on the Challenge Tour this season, I can’t wait to join them.”
Alain de Soultrait, Director of the European Challenge Tour, said: “Last week Tommy showed what a great future he has ahead of him, so we are delighted he has accepted an invitation to play in our biggest tournament, the Kazakhstan Open. We on the Challenge Tour are proud of our reputation as a breeding ground for the stars of the future, and Tommy certainly falls into that category. We hope he is able to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Oliver Wilson, who all played on the Challenge Tour before enjoying great success on The European Tour.”