There was an extra spring in the step of four players at the Norwegian Challenge as Austrian duo Roland Steiner and Florian Praegant and Portuguese brothers Ricardo and Hugo Santos basked in the glory of qualifying for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
The Portuguese and Austrian duos came through four rounds of qualifying in Estonia last week to book their tickets to China in November, alongside the Dutch team of Joost Luiten and Robert-Jan Derksen.
Austria’s victory gave a huge boost of confidence to Steiner, who fired a course record eight under par 64 in the first round, while Praegant and Hugo Santos had a two under par 70 – the latter posting an albatross at the par five fifth – and Ricardo Santos signed for a 71.
Steiner said: “I think when I get there it will sink in a bit more. Then we will see what it really means. Right now it just feels like we won last week and that we will make some money at the World Cup, which as a Challenge Tour player is always and important thing.
“People are asking more about us now and The European Tour is looking at us more closely. I’m going to enjoy it over there and I’m really looking forward to playing, but first of all it’s about doing my job over here in Europe and doing as well as I can on the Challenge Tour.”
Praegant added: “It was a great tournament last week and Roland and I played very well together. Now we can look forward to the World Cup. Playing in it will be amazing. I don’t know how many times Austria has played in it but it can’t be that many.
“It will be fantastic, going to China and representing our country. We will have to do a lot of practice and preparation to make sure we have a good tournament.
“It’s amazing to think we will be playing alongside the game’s stars. There will be lots of spectators as well, which is something else we are not used to. It will be the highlight of the year, for sure.”
The Santos brothers will be one of three sibling pairs at the 2011 Omega Mission Hills World Cup, along with Colombia’s Camilo and Manuel Villegas and defending champions Francesco and Edoardo Molinari of Italy.
Hugo Santos said: “It is a big step for me and my brother to qualify for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup. It is always a pleasure to play with Ricardo and last week was the first time I have been to World Cup Qualifying. We both played very well and hopefully we can do so again in China.
“It is a big motivation knowing that we will be playing alongside some of the best players in the world.”