Federico Colombo is hoping to emulate the feats of his friend and compatriot Edoardo Molinari at this week’s lucrative Kazakhstan Open, where victory would put the Italian in pole position to win the Challenge Tour Rankings.
Last year Colombo came close to keeping the coveted trophy in Italian hands, following Molinari’s superb victory in 2009, but ultimately he had to settle for a share of second place behind Spaniard Alvaro Velasco.
Despite collecting a sizeable cheque Colombo narrowly missed out on securing elevation to The European Tour, but the 23 year old is currently on course to finish comfortably inside the top 20 of the Challenge Tour Rankings after enjoying an astonishingly consistent campaign.
Colombo sits in sixth place in the Rankings with season’s earnings of €64,147, but despite finishing in the top six on five occasions this term, he is yet to record the first victory of his fledgling Challenge Tour career.
Inspired by Molinari’s achievement, however, and buoyed by his performance at the €400,000 event 12 months ago, Colombo is determined to break his duck and collect the €64,000 winner’s cheque.
He said: “I really want to win a tournament and also try to win the Rankings like Edoardo, because you have to aim high. We will see at the end of the year if I get my card or not because everything can change really quickly in the Rankings, especially after a week like this. But at the moment, it’s looking quite good for me.
“I can’t wait for the tournament to start because I really like Kazakhstan, and although I’ve never played this course before I’ve heard it’s in good condition, so hopefully I can have a another good week like last year. I’ve been practising really hard on my game in the last week, especially on my chipping and putting, so hopefully it pays off for me.”
Colombo will face some serious competition as he bids to end his drought, with the cream of the Challenge Tour all teeing up at Nurtau Golf Club, which is located in the shadow of the stunning Tien Sian mountain range.
Aside from three-time winner Benjamin Hebert of France and England’s Jamie Elson, both of whom are competing at the KLM Open on The European Tour, the top 20 in the Rankings are all present and correct in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s second largest city.
With just six events left of the season after this week, the players further down the Rankings will be equally keen to find some form and gatecrash the top 20, in the manner of Scott Jamieson last year.
Jamieson was staring at another season on the Challenge Tour this term 12 months ago, but after finishing joint runner-up he was catapulted into the top 20, and would stay there for the remainder of the season to earn a debut season on The European Tour.
The Scotsman has undoubtedly made the most of his chances this term, and is battling it out with fellow Challenge Tour graduate Thorbjørn Olesen of Denmark to be named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.
The significance of the Kazakhstan Open can thus never be underestimated, which is why it is rightly regarded as a Challenge Tour ‘Major’.