Ricardo Santos will resume his quest to move to the top of the European Challenge Tour Rankings when he heads the field for the Fred Olsen Challenge de España 2011 at Tecina Golf Club in the Canary Islands this week.
The 29 year old Portuguese has admittedly been in indifferent form in the past two weeks, having missed the cut in both Kazakhstan and France, but will aim to put all that behind him and show the form which brought him victory in The Princess tournament in Sweden in July.
With Rankings leader Tommy Fleetwood and second placed Sam Little – who won for the second week in succession when he claimed the Allianz Golf Open Grand Toulouse in France last week – both absent from the Canary Islands, it gives the chance for Santos to move to the head of affairs with a victory.
While the race for the number one spot is intriguing, with four events to go on the 2011 Challenge Tour schedule, the quest to finish in the top 20 at the end of the year and hence gain a card for The 2012 European Tour is equally as fascinating as the season comes down to the wire.
One player who made a significant stride last week in France was England’s Matthew Baldwin who finished in a tie for third place at Golf de Toulouse-Seilh and as a result, moved from 29th place to just outside the top 20 in 22nd place.
“I was pretty sure I would get a place in the field for the Canary Islands but this finish made sure of it for me and now I’ll go there and try and capitalise on what was a pretty good week for me in France,” said the 25 year old from Southport.
“Obviously everybody has their eye on finishing inside the top 20, it’s the goal for everyone out here and I’m no different. We all bandy about figures in what we think might be needed but it’s just really about going out there and playing good golf. If you do that, the rest will take care of itself.”
One man currently inside the top 20 is Scotland’s Craig Lee, who maintained his 13th place position after finishing in a tie for 19th place in France.
Lee is one of three players – the other two being Frenchman Anthony Snobeck and England’s Daniel Brooks – who have played in all but one of the Challenge Tour’s 21 tournaments thus far this season.
The marathon effort is a tiring one but one Lee admitted he hoped would pay dividends at the end of the season.
“I’m looking forward to going to Tecina,” said the 34 year old from Stirling. “I’ve never played there before and so like most courses on the Challenge Tour this year, it will be a new experience for me and a new challenge and I’m looking for another good week.
“A lot is made of the fact that I have played almost every event on the Tour but I just want to try and do the best I can and produce the best result at the end of the season.
“I’ve had a lot of good help and support this year from a lot of people being part of Team Scottish Hydro, and therefore it is nice to repay the faith they have in me by going out and trying to compete every week.”