Chris Paisley is looking forward to returning to the place where he believes he found his feet on the Challenge Tour when the fourth edition of the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda takes place at GC Klagenfurt-Seltenheim this week.
The Englishman earned his best result of the 2011 season in Klagenfurt when he finished in third place, behind runaway winner Edouard Dubois whose victory set him on the path to The European Tour via a second win at the Scottish Hydro Challenge two weeks later.
It was just as important a result for Paisley, as he earmarks that week as the one in which he finally felt comfortable as a Challenge Tour player.
“I really enjoyed it last year,” said the 26 year old. “It was one of my first Challenge Tour events - I had played only a handful before that. I really liked the course and I really like Austria having played there a few times before, so I like the whole feel of the country. Obviously I played quite well too, which helps.
“It was the first time I was in contention, even though I ended up finishing quite a bit behind. But it was good to be up there, it was my first chance to do so. I’d had a couple of good wins on the Alps Tour at that point so I got a bit of confidence, but to do well at the next level, I took a lot of confidence from that.”
It was a rollercoaster week in Klagenfurt last year, with Andrea Pavan taking a seven shot lead into the third day after respective rounds of 63 and 64 before Dubois finally emerged victorious four shots clear of the Italian.
With both players now plying their trade on The European Tour, hindsight makes Paisley even more positive about the season ahead.
“The two guys that beat me are on The European Tour now so hopefully I won’t be too far behind,” he said, “I played eight Challenge Tour tournaments last year so this year I’ll play a lot more.
“I feel pretty comfortable with it all now to be honest. I played okay at the start of the season but I feel like if I do play well I have a good chance of finishing in the top 20 in the Rankings.
“Last year was my first year and if felt like a step up, whereas this year I feel I have a good chance to do it.
“It’s been a steady start to the season, nothing special yet but things are getting better as I go on now. In golf, generally the money is top heavy so it’s all about how you do on your good weeks. You’ll have poor weeks but you have to take advantage when you’re playing well and finish in the top three or top ten and that’s where you make your money.
“Obviously I have good memories of Austria and hopefully I can play well again and maybe win this time. I've got four weeks in a row at that point so I'm looking forward to that. It’s a nice run of golf as it’s been a bit stop-start so far.”
Italian Marco Crespi, Englishman Eddie Pepperell and Germany’s Max Kieffer, who are all winners on the Challenge Tour this season, will also tee it up for the €160,000 event, which is played over a tree-lined 7,053-yard, par 72 course.