Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Field in Focus: at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final

europeantour.com takes a closer look at the field taking to San Domenico Golf for the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final from November 2-5.

In the field are:


12 players still in contention to be Challenge Tour Number One for 2011


Twelve players are still in the hunt to be crowned the Challenge Tour’s Number One graduate at San Domenico Golf, from three-time winner and current custodian of the top spot, the in-form Sam Little, down to the man ranked 12th in the 2011 standings, England’s Craig Lee.

While Lee, who presently sits €53,449 behind Little, undoubtedly retains only a slim chance of topping the final rankings, a sizeable winner’s cheque of €56,650 means that literally anyone within the current top 12 can walk away from Italy as the Challenge Tour champion for 2011.

Tommy Fleetwood, who claimed €64,000 in capturing the lucrative Kazakhstan Open title in September, is perhaps in with the best chance of overhauling Little, with only €12,208 separating the current Challenge Tour Number Two from first place glory.


Pos.
   Player         Prize Money
        Gap to #1
1
   Sam Little
        € 123,501
         
2
   Tommy Fleetwood
        € 111,293
        € 12,208 
3
   Ricardo Santos
        € 93,776
        € 29,725 
4
   Daniel Denison
        € 84,496        € 39,005 
5
   Benjamin Hebert
        € 83,997
        € 39,504 
6
   Jamie Moul
        € 78,511
        € 44,990
7
   Andrea Pavan
        € 76,402
        € 47,099
8
   Matthew Baldwin
        € 74,570         € 48,931 
9
   Federico Colombo
        € 73,034         € 50,467 
10
   Julien Quesne
        € 70,782         € 52,719 
11
   Edouard Dubois
        € 70,536         € 52,965 
12
   Craig Lee
        € 70,052         € 53,449


45 players still with a shot at a European Tour card for 2012

Every single Challenge Tour Member on show at San Domenico for the Grand Final can still finish in the top 20 of the 2011 rankings, and with it secure a much-coveted European Tour card for the following season.

Even 45th-placed Lloyd Kennedy who, at €20,632 behind the current Challenge Tour Number 20, South African Branden Grace, will still preserve a faint glimmer of hope of sneaking into the top 20, but would need a second place finish in Italy and for other results to go his way to do so.

Competition for the final 20 places, though, is still wide open with just over €10,000 separating 20-30th place in the current standings.


Pos.
   Player          Prize Money        Gap to #20
20    Branden Grace          € 57,514          
45    Lloyd Kennedy          € 36,882         € 20,632 


3 multiple Challenge Tour winners from 2011

Sam Little is very much the man of the moment on the Challenge Tour circuit after winning three out of the last five events since mid-September: the M2M Russian Challenge Cup, the ALLIANZ Golf Open Grand Toulouse and the Roma Golf Open, and the Englishman will be hoping to secure his fourth scalp of the season at the Grand Final, and his second on Italian soil, thus sealing his Number One berth at the top of the Challenge Tour rankings.

It was back in August that Benjamin Hebert secured his European Tour card with victory at the Rolex Trophy in Switzerland, after already placing first in back-to-back weeks at the Credit Suisse Challenge and the English Challenge in July, but the Frenchman is back in the Challenge Tour ranks for the season-ending climax and will also be gunning for his fourth title of the year and an eye on improving his current ranking position of fifth.

The third multiple winner of 2011 in the field at San Domenico is another Frenchman, Edouard Dubois, who won twice back in June at the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda and the Scottish Hydro Challenge a few weeks later.


10 players in the field that finished inside top 45 in 2010

Of the 45 in the field, there are ten who played in the Grand Final last year, of which eight currently rank better than they did come the end of 2010.

Player
        2010
        2011
        Diff.
Daniel Denison        39
        4
        +35
Federico Colombo
        30
        9         +21
Edouard Dubois
        42
        11         +31
Charles-Edouard Russo
        24
        14         +10
Alessandro Tadini
        25
        17         +8
Sam Walker
        28
        22         +6
Peter Gustafsson        29
        25         +4
Pelle Edberg         27
        26         +1
Steven Tiley
        26
        40         -14
Victor Riu
        32
        33         -1
               

11 players with 5 or more top-ten finishes on the 2011 Challenge Tour

Portugal’s Ricardo Santos has debatably had the most consistent season of any player on the Challenge Tour, having won once in June at The Princess by Schüco in Sweden, and with seven other top-ten finishes under his belt his reward is the current Number Three spot in the rankings, albeit sitting €17,517 behind second-placed Fleetwood – whose one win happened to come at the profitable Kazakhstan Open.

Italian Federico Colombo has never won on the Challenge Tour but despite this he is currently ninth in the 2011 rankings, a testament to his consistency throughout the season having also finished in the top ten on eight out of the 19 tournaments he has entered this year.


Player
      Top 10s
Ricardo Santos
      8
Federico Colombo
      8
Julien Quesne
      7
Matthew Baldwin
      5
Daniel Denison       5
Tommy Fleetwood       5
Branden Grace       5
José-Filipe Lima       5
Sam Little       5
Jamie Moul       5
Victor Riu       5


14 different nationalities represented   

AUS        Australia         1
AUT        Austria         1
DEN        Denmark         1
ENG        England         15
ESP        Spain 
       1
FRA        France
       8
GER        Germany         1
IRL        Ireland         1
ITA        Italy         3
NOR
        Norway         2
POR        Portugal        2
SCO        Scotland
        2
RSA      
  South Africa
        3
SWE        Sweden         2


5 Rookies playing in the Grand Final

Some five rookies have taken to life on the Challenge Tour particularly well, not only making it into the top 45 and the end of season Grand Final, but all in contention for a 2012 European Tour berth to boot. The stand out performance of this group has come from Italy's Andrea Pavan who is certain of graduating whatever happens at San Domenico, thanks mainly to his first Challenge Tour victory at the Norwegian Challenge which has him handily placed at seventh on the Ranking.

Also in the group are Englishmen Matthew Southgate (21st) and Chris Lloyd (29th) as well as Norwegians Knut Borsheim (28th) and Espen Kofstad (31st).


21 players with 38 Challenge Tour victories between them

Almost half of the field travelling to Italy for the Grand Final have previous experience of lifting a winner’s trophy on the Challenge Tour, experience that could prove crucial in seeing them over the line at San Domenico.

Current Number One, Little, tops the list with five Challenge Tour victories, followed by three men each with a treble of “Ws”: Benjamin Hebert, Alessandro Tadini and José-Filipe Lima.


24 players who have previously held full membership on the European Tour


Of these 24 there are plenty of stand out performances from people like Peter Gustafsson who narrowly lost in a play-off to fellow Swede Peter Hanson at the 2005 Jazztel Open de España en Andalucía, before following that up by finishing alone in second at the Omega European Masters that year on his way to finishing 42nd on the Order of Merit.

Or Phillip Archer who looked certain to secure his first European Tour victory in 2007, finishing second twice and ending the season 29th on the Order of Merit. In 2006 he also had a putt for a round of 59, and what would have been the lowest score in European Tour history, in the first round of The Celtic Manor Wales Open. However it narrowly slipped by and he would eventually go on to finish in a tie for fifth.

Other notables include Pelle Edberg who secured his card with two stunning performances in consecutive weeks in 2007, finishing in a tie for third and a tie for fourth at the Smufit Kappa European Open and The Barclays Scottish Open respectively en route to 51st on the Order of Merit that year.

Those like Sam Little and José-Filipe Lima have also spent multiple years on the European Tour with some success, and whichever players make the top 20 come the season's end will look to replicate, or even better, these successes in 2012.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1PAVAN, AndreaITA18-17
2FLEETWOOD, TommyENG18-16
T3MARSHALL, AndrewENG18-14
T3JOHNSTON, AndrewENG18-14
5EDBERG, PelleSWE18-13
T6THORNTON, SimonIRL18-12
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