Andreas Hartø, currently second in the Challenge Tour Rankings, goes into this week’s Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda driven by the extra motivation of leading the hunt for the man at the top of the pile, current Number One Magnus Carlsson of Sweden.
Carlsson has understandably taken the week off from Challenge Tour duties to play in his national open, the Nordea Masters, on The European Tour, but his absence at the beautiful Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim in the stunning Carinthia region of Austria has been duly noted by the men below the Swede in the Rankings.
Hartø acknowledges the opportunity to close the €11,000 gap at the top of the Rankings, and, despite his best efforts not to pay too much attention to the Rankings, the Dane is hopeful that he can produce a quality performance this week to apply some pressure on Carlsson’s lead.
Indeed, an optimum performance (first prize this week is €25,600) would see Hartø fly past Carlsson at the Rankings’ summit, while Carlsson’s other nearest challengers in the Rankings in Austria this week – Max Kieffer (fifth) and Eddie Pepperell (sixth) – would be a huge threat to the Number One spot if either the German or Englishman could secure their second victories of the season.
Hartø has yet to win on the Challenge Tour this year, but his third place finish at the dual ranking Madeira Islands Open, coupled with strong performances in India (third) and Colombia (tenth) have elevated the 23 year old from Copenhagen to prominence.
“You do notice when the Number One is not at a tournament and yes, it is a great chance to close the gap on Magnus this week,” said Hartø following his Tuesday practice round at the Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim.
“I suppose it is extra motivation and I am aware of that but, to be honest, it is something I am trying not to focus on too much this season. I think if I can focus just on the golf and what I do on the course then the results and performances will take care of themselves.”
Hartø is impressed by this week’s venue at the Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim, adding: “The course is in good condition and will be a good test I think. You have to drive the ball very well around here to have any chance of success and that should suit my game as I tend to hit it long and fairly straight!
“It has been a great season for me so far but I have to try and keep playing at the level I have been most of the weeks I have played on the Challenge Tour. It can be a very difficult test out here because you have to play well for the whole year unless you win one of the biggest events.
“The only time I will look at the Rankings and feel safe is if I have over €100,000. I am almost halfway there which means there is a long way to go before I can look back on the season and judge it as a success or not.
“Looking at my position now, I would have to say that I am now focussing on finishing the season in the top ten. That would give me the best possible card for The European Tour next year and that is what we are all trying to achieve out here.”