The pressure to perform will be greater than ever for the Challenge Tour players at this week’s Roma Golf Open as the competition for final Rankings places reaches boiling point.
For many it is the last chance of the season to turn in a good result, and to guarantee playing rights for 2012, because only the top 45 players in the Rankings at the end of the week qualify for the season-ending Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, also in Italy.
Swede Klass Eriksson is the man currently in 45th place, but right behind him are his compatriot Pelle Edberg (47th) and English duo Daniel Brooks (46th) and Matt Ford (48th), all within just €2,000.
Pierre Relecom of Belgium is one of the in-form players heading to Rome, having finished third in the Fred Olsen Challenge de España two weeks ago and runner-up in the Allianz Open de Lyon last week, but he at 57th in the Rankings, he will need another top five finish this week to book his ticket to the Grand Final.
At the top of the Rankings, the heat is on to secure a place in the top 20 and graduate to The European Tour for next season. The top ten is every player’s aim, guaranteeing a better category than positions 11 to 20, and Scotland’s Craig Lee will be aiming to continue the fine form which yielded a tied fifth place finish in Lyon to jump up from his current position of 11th.
Frenchman Julien Quesne moved from 28th to ninth with his victory in France last week, and he has targeted a top five finish, but English trio Daniel Denison, Jamie Moul and Matt Baldwin, fifth, sixth and seventh respectively, will not give up their positions without a fight.
Andrea Pavan, currently eighth, is one of the favourites this week as the venue for the Roma Golf Open, Olgiata Golf Club, is where he grew up playing. No doubt the members and home fans will be out in force to support the 22 year old, who has earned €71,922 in his maiden professional season, helped largely by winning his first Challenge Tour title at the Norwegian Challenge in August.
Further down, England’s Matthew Southgate is the player in 20th spot, having risen two places thanks to coming tied fifth last week, but Austrian Florian Praegant is little more than €1,000 behind in 21st.
For anyone between 20th and 50th, a win in Rome would allow them to leap into the top 20, and for any player from 50th to roughly 100th victory would give them a shot at the Grand Final, which carries a €330,000 prize fund, from where they could deliver another fine performance to make the
It really is all to play for this week.