Our press officer this week brings you all the action from behind the scenes at the Saint-Omer Open presented by Neuflize OBC.
Ups and downs for Dubois
Every golfer knows the frustration of playing well one day and badly the next, and not knowing what you are doing differently. But spare a thought for Edouard Dubois, whose topsy-turvy game must have him scratching his head. In the Madeira Islands Open last month he was 21 over par after two rounds to easily miss the cut, but a fornight later he won the Karnten Golf Open in Austria with scores of 65 and 63 at the weekend taking him to 23 under par. Now, in his first appearance since that victory two weeks ago, he is 13 over par midway through his second round, without a single birdie on his card. Frustrating times for the young Frenchman.
Italy's Andrea Perrino obviously learnt a thing or two week at the BMW Italian Open, as his first round 68 here put him two shots off the lead. The former Alps Tour player said: "Last week was great to get a taste of the Tour. It was a great opportunity to play and I had a good time with Francesco (Molinari) and Matteo (Manassero) and the other Italians. Will I be watching the US Open this week? Definitely. It's a bit strange that Matteo, Francesco and Edoardo (Molinari) have been put in the same group for the first two rounds but maybe it could work out well. We will see."
Evans gets his chance
One player's loss is another's gain... Frenchman Julien Clément failed to make his 9.10am tee time for the first round on Thursday, so Englishman Matt Evans, the first reserve who was on site in case of this eventuality, suddenly found himself playing in the tournament. Repeated calls to Clément in the ten minutes or so before his tee time, by his caddie and tournament officials, proved fruitless, and once he had not arrived five minutes after his allotted tee time, he was disqualified. For the reserve player, t must be difficult to be hanging around thinking he is not competing, and then all of a sudden he's expected to tee off in driving rain and contest a €600,000 prize fund. But I'd bet Evans is not complaining after being given this chance. Poor Julien was thwarted by a flat tyre on his car, and by the time he'd struggled to change the wheel it was too late.
Wiegele is rocking...
There are many ways players spend their weeks off - usually spending time with their family or friends, relaxing at home and maybe hitting a few balls for practice. But probably no player other than Martin Wiegele, this week's defending champion, spent last week at a rock festival. The Austrian was camping at Nova Rock in his home country, getting down to the likes of Linkin Park and Dredge, and it is the second year running he has gone to the event. He said: "Last year we went and by chance I had the same week off as a break, so me and my girlfriend packed the tent and went to it. It worked out to be good preparation last year so maybe by doing the same thing again this year will bring me luck."
A massive opportunity
This tournament is the only dual ranking event of the season, with half the field from The European Tour and half from the Challenge Tour. It’s a little like a cup final for the Challenge Tour guys; their one chance of the season to gain a massive prize with one great performance. Victory not only brings one of the largest winner’s cheques of the season, it gives a one-year exemption to The European Tour. Martin Wiegele took advantage of it last year. Coming into the event on the back of victory in the Kärnten Golf Open, he triumphed at Aa St Omer Golf Club to immediately dispel any concerns of earning his card through the Rankings. And instead of playing the remainder of last season’s Challenge Tour schedule, suddenly he was heading to the BMW International Open and the ALSTOM Open de France, mixing it with the game’s superstars. As for the European Tour players, the absence of the big guns, who are either teeing up in the US Open or taking a week’s break, should be a big confidence boost.
Planes, trains and automobiles
This tournament is certainly popular with the Brits here this week, not to mention the French, who can reach Aa St Omer Golf Club without the usual rigmarole of airports and all the joys they bring. What a pleasure it was to load up the car without worrying about excess luggage or carrying lead weights. The journey consisted of a 90-mile drive to Folkestone, a ridiculously easy channel crossing on the Eurotunnel and another 20 minutes in the car from Calais to Lumbres, just outside the town of St Omer. If the journey back on Sunday night is equally straightforward, I will be home in time for dinner – lovely stuff.