François Calmels is hoping a return to Royal Waterloo Golf Club, the scene of his maiden Challenge Tour victory and host venue for this week’s Telenet Trophy, will help spark a return to The European Tour.
Two years ago, the Frenchman closed with a brace of birdies to secure a two-shot win which went a long way towards helping him finish in 20th place in the final 2009 Rankings and earn graduation to The European Tour.
Calmels was ultimately unable to retain his playing privileges on the top tier last term, but a return to La Marache Course in Lasne, on the outskirts of Belgium’s capital Brussels, may kick-start a campaign for the 29 year old.
The Parisian will not be able to call on the services of his girlfriend Jade Schaeffer, who caddied for him two years ago, as she will be in action on the Ladies European Tour, but Calmels is still confident lightning can strike twice.
He said: “It’s a very nice course – I enjoy playing it a lot. It’s a great finish because the last two holes are both par fives, so a lot can change, which makes it very exciting. I birdied both from the sand on the final day two years ago, so I really like those holes – they were very good to me!
“My win was very special, because it was my first on the Challenge Tour. My mother was living in Brussels at the time, so we stayed with her for the week, which was great because it helped me to relax.
“Jade had won on the Ladies European Tour the week before, so for me to win in Brussels was just unbelievable. She won’t be there with me this time, but I’ll try to remember our time together on the course, and hopefully I can have the same result and win it for her, because she recently had an operation on her wrist so has only just started playing again.
“I will have to play much better because I’ve been struggling with my game a little bit, especially off the tee. I missed the cut in Madeira but that’s because I really struggled with the wind. But hopefully the weather will be better in Brussels, and I can have another good week and finish the season in the top 20 again.”
A quartet of Challenge Tour champions could pose the biggest threat to Calmels, with Argentina’s Joaquin Estévez, Germany’s Nicolas Meitinger, Frenchman Anthony Snobeck and Italian Alessandro Tadini all bound for Brussels.
Home hopes rest squarely on the shoulders of Pierre Relecom, Nicolas Vanhootegem and Guillaume Watremez, all of whom are attached to Royal Waterloo Golf Club and so will be keen to make home advantage count.
Of that trio, it is perhaps Vanhootegem of whom most will be expected, having become the first and so far only Belgian winner of the Telenet Trophy in 2007, when the €150,000 event made its debut at Royal Waterloo Golf Club.
Since then, the English duo of David Horsey (2008) and Lee Slattery (2010), both now European Tour Members, have won either side of Calmels’ triumph.