Having beaten Matteo Manassero to the Rolex Trophy title two years ago, Mark Tullo will fear no-one on his return to Geneva this week.
The Chilean posted a stunning round of 65 on the final day at Golf Club de Genève, in the Swiss capital, to overhaul long-time leader Manassero and claim his first title in his fourth season on the Challenge Tour.
Two months later, Tullo saw off all-comers – including a certain Rory McIlroy – at the Egyptian Open to seal a place on The 2011 European Tour International Schedule as the ninth graduate, only to lose his playing privileges at the end of last season by less than €2,000.
Tullo admits the disappointment adversely affected his form at the start of this season but, on the back of successive top ten finishes at the Norwegian Challenge a fortnight ago and last week’s ECCO Tour Championship, the 34 year old from Santiago is now hopeful that a return to the scene of his debut victory will herald the start of another inspired run to The European Tour.
He said: “Geneva’s a beautiful place, it’s a great golf course and they treat us really well there, so I’m looking forward to going back and I’m sure it’ll bring back some good memories for me. Since my win I think Matteo [Manassero] might have earned a few more Euros than me, but at least I got the better of him that day!
“I played very well in the last two rounds, but especially on the final day. I made some great putts, which you have to if you’re going to win any tournament. You need to win at least once and maybe even twice on the Challenge Tour to guarantee a top 20 finish, so that has to be my aim from now until the end of the season.
“I think I’m now playing much more consistent golf than I was two years ago, so I’m right there and I’m just waiting for that one really big week to come along. In Norway two weeks ago, I felt like I was playing well enough to win that tournament comfortably. I just didn’t putt well enough, so I need to get it going on the greens, and it was a similar story in Denmark last week. But hopefully this is the week when everything falls into place again.”
Last year, France’s Benjamin Hebert claimed his third Challenge Tour title to earn instant promotion to The European Tour, and Gary Stal will be bidding to follow in his compatriot’s footsteps this week after his victories at the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Mazda and the Credit Suisse Challenge.
Similarly, Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg is also eyeing instant elevation with victory in Geneva after his recent back-to-back successes at the Finnish Challenge and the Norwegian Challenge.
Other notable names in the elite 42-man field include current Rankings leader Gary Lockerbie of England and American Peter Uihlein, the former World Amateur Number One and US Amateur Champion.
The field – comprising the top 41 players in the Challenge Tour Rankings at the cut-off date plus one sponsor’s invitation, which went to Switzerland’s Raphaël de Sousa – will battle it out over four days of Pro-Am competition for the €220,000 prize fund.
All 42 players will be hoping to match the success of recent Rolex Trophy winners Julien Quesne, Michael Jonzon, Alexander Noren and Marc Warren, who followed up their triumphs at Golf Club de Genève with victories on The European Tour.
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