Edoardo Molinari (Getty Images)
A place in the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final will be the aim for the Challenge Tour players in this week’s Roma Golf Open and history shows the event can have a significant impact on the season finale.
Momentum is everything as the Challenge Tour campaign reaches its climax in Italy and Englishman Matt Haines showed exactly the kind of bearing a strong performance at Olgiata Golf Club can have on the end of year standings.
Haines was outside the all-important top 20 on the Challenge Tour Rankings when he arrived in Rome last year but a tied third place saw him move up from 23rd to 17th position. It also gave him the confidence boost and momentum to go on to win the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final and finish the year as runner up to Alvaro Velasco in the Rankings.
Of course in 2010 the Roma Golf Open, won by Dane Andreas Hartø, was the third last event of the Challenge Tour season but this year it returns to its previous slot as penultimate tournament of the campaign, meaning that every shot really does count in terms of end of season Ranking.
In 2009, when the Roma Golf Open was the penultimate event of the year, it proved to be pivotal to Andrew Tampion’s season. The Australian was just inside the top 45 on the Rankings that qualify for the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final before the Roma Golf Open and sealed his place with a share of 15th place at Olgiata Golf Club.
He then went to the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final and finished runner up to Peter Whiteford, moving from 39th on the Rankings to 15th and gaining a European Tour card for 2010.
This year’s Challenge Tour contingent will be hoping to emulate Tampion’s feat and first of all seal a place in the top 45 to qualify for the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final from November 2-5, then attempt to earn a spot in the end of season top 20. Tampion himself will be among those hoping to perform well and improve on his position of 33rd on the Rankings.
History has also looked favourably on some of the past winners of the Roma Golf Open with all four previous champions graduating onto The European Tour. Swede Mikael Lundberg, the inaugural winner in 2007, Dutchman Taco Remkes, the 2008 winner, and 2009 champion Edoardo Molinari all went on to finish the year in the top 20 on the Rankings, Molinari as Challenge Tour Number One.
Molinari held off Nicolas Colsaerts and Rhys Davies to win the Roma Golf Open two years ago, both of whom have gone on to win on the European Tour, just as Molinari did twice in 2010 to earn a place in Colin Montgomerie’s European Ryder Cup Team.
Last year’s Roma Golf Open champion Hartø had just turned professional before his victory and went on to seal his card at Qualifying School. He returns to defend the title this week hoping to force his way into the top 45 on the Rankings and seal a place in the Grand Final next month.