Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club is the stunning setting for the first leg of the Challenge Tour’s eastern odyssey, which will go a long way towards determining who finishes the season in the top 20 of the Rankings.
This week, the M2M Russian Challenge Cup returns to Jack Nicklaus’ magnificent layout on the outskirts of the capital city Moscow, where the Challenge Tour’s finest will compete for a €200,000 prize fund.
With less than €2,000 separating England’s Gary Lockerbie and Sweden’s Magnus Carlsson at the top of the Rankings and, perhaps more importantly, less than €300 between Dutchman Wil Bessling in 20th place and Germany’s Max Kieffer in 21st, the third edition of the M2M Russian Challenge Cup – and the money-spinning Kazakhstan Open which follows it – could make or break a player’s season.
In-form Englishman Chris Lloyd, who shot a 62 on the third day of the Rolex Trophy en route to finishing in fifth place in Geneva, is acutely aware of the need to capitalise on the large prize funds on offer both this week and next.
“I really didn’t do myself justice in Russia and Kazakhstan last year,” said Lloyd, who ended the season in 28th place in the Rankings but is currently well-placed in 16th ahead of his second appearance at the M2M Russian Challenge Cup.
“I played poorly on the second day in Russia to miss the cut and then badly again over the weekend in Kazakhstan, and looking back those two weeks were probably the main reason why I missed out on finishing in the top 20 of the Rankings. But I’m in good form this time around, my confidence is high after the Rolex Trophy, and I’m determined not to make the same mistakes again.”
Lloyd will be joined at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club by his compatriot Matt Ford, who finished one shot behind winner Carlos del Moral of Spain in the inaugural edition two years ago.
Other notable names in the field include former World Amateur Number One Peter Uihlein of America and two-time European Tour champion Daniel Vancsik of Argentina, who both head to the Russian capital in fine fettle after finishing third and sixth respectively at the Rolex Trophy.
Home hopes rest squarely on the broad shoulders of former World Number One tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who became a professional golfer and Vice President of the Russian Golf Federation after hanging up his tennis racket in 2003.
Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club will host the M2M Russian Challenge Cup for the third successive season. Designed by 18-time Major Champion Jack Nicklaus, the layout was described by Del Moral as “the most beautiful course I have ever played”.
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