Craig Lee is hoping to build on his promising start to the season in the Saint-Omer Open presented by Neuflize OBC this week, an event which holds happy memories for the Scotsman.
The Stirling man finished tied second 12 months ago and the €44,740 prize money was significant in his finishing 14th in the Challenge Tour Rankings, which earned him a second shot on The European Tour following his rookie season in 2008.
The 35 year old did not keep his card four years ago, but this time he has the benefit of more experience and the confidence to feel he is where he belongs.
Three top 20 finishes at the beginning of the campaign set him off on the right track, and although he has faltered in recent weeks – with three missed cuts preceding the Saint-Omer Open – Lee is happy with his progress.
“I know more people this time around and I’m much more used to life on Tour,” said Lee. “I feel a lot more comfortable and I think playing a full season on the Challenge Tour last year has helped a lot. I’ve got used to being away and living out of a suitcase, and I’ve got to know the other boys a lot better.
“Many of the courses are the same as in 2008, so I have the benefit of having played them before. And I’ve had four years to work on my game, so I’m a better player than when I was last on Tour.”
Lee has changed his practice routine to try to recapture the form that yielded an eighth place finish in the Africa Open in January following a two-month break from competition.
“I worked really hard on my game over the winter and spent a lot of time in Spain,” he said. “I thought the work I did then would see me through the season, but that’s not the case and I’m going back to the things I worked on then.
“It was a great start to the season, but I’m not happy with how I’ve been playing recently, so I’m looking at different ways of practising. I need to work a bit harder. Hopefully a good week this week will get me back on track.”
The Saint-Omer Open presented by Neuflize OBC is dual-ranked between The European Tour and the Challenge Tour and has a €500,000 prize fund. The winner gains a European Tour exemption until the end of 2013, as well as the €100,000 first prize, so it is like a Major Championship for the Challenge Tour players.