Englishman Phil Archer is aiming to cement his position at the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings by continuing his fine early season form in next month’s Madeira Islands Open - Portugal.
The 40 year old won the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic in March, and has finished third and tied 11th in his other two Challenge Tour appearances of 2012 – in the Barclays Kenya Open and the Gujurat Kensville Challenge respectively.
He is currently more than €10,000 ahead of his compatriot Seve Benson in second place, but with a €675,000 prize fund available at Santo da Serra, Archer is acutely aware of the opportunity it presents to extend his advantage.
His only regret, however, is that the Madeira Islands Open - Portugal clashes with the Allianz Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne, where he would have been the defending champion.
“It’s a shame Madeira is the same week as Brittany as it means I won’t be able to defend my title,” said Archer. “But I can’t turn down a €675,000 prize fund, so there’s no question of where I’ll be playing.
“Madeira is like a Major for the Challenge Tour players because of the much bigger purse than the majority of the other tournaments on the schedule. I’m glad to be going there in good form and at the top of the Rankings, and fingers crossed I can cement that position with another good performance.”
Archer considered giving up the game last year after a poor showing at the season-ending Apulia San Domenico Grand Final which culminated in him taking 37th spot in the Challenge Tour Rankings, but his decision to persevere has been vindicated by his resurgence this year.
“I played terribly at the Grand Final and afterwards I sat down with my wife and talked about whether to carry on or not. We decided that I should, and I went back to an old coach who I used to see during the good times. I also had some putting lessons and started a bit of fitness and it’s paying off because my results have been great.
“I’m enjoying playing again. I’m delighted with how I’ve played so far this season and hopefully I can continue in the same vein. Kenya was great and afterwards I went on holiday with the family and some friends to Wales. We stayed in a caravan by the beach. There’s no way I’m getting on a plane with two young kids!”
The Madeira Islands Open - Portugal is not a tournament where Archer has enjoyed previous success, but he is determined to buck that trend now that he is heading there as a man in form.
“I did okay a couple of years ago on Porto Santo, but I can’t remember ever doing anything special at Santo da Serra,” he added. “That said, I’ve never gone into the event playing particularly well, so I’m looking at it as an excellent opportunity.
“My confidence is sky high at the minute, so there’s no reason why I can’t go and get another good result there.”