The German earned a European Tour card for 2012 via Qualifying School last December after missing out on one of the 20 cards available through the Challenge Tour, but he does credit his confidence at Q-School to the result in the Central Asian nation.He struggled on the big stage earlier this year, however, and now he has returned to the Challenge Tour and admits that he needs some big results between now and the end of the season to have any chance of gaining a card for next year’s Race to Dubai schedule.
Having finished tied third last year in the lucrative Kazakhstan Open, considered the Challenge Tour season’s ‘Major’, last year, Zhailjau Golf Resort might just be the perfect place for the Nuremburg man to rediscover his form.“This will be my third time in Kazakhstan and I like the country,” said the 25 year old. “There is always good weather, the hotel is great, the courses I have played there are really good. The people are nice and the food is good, so what more do you need?
“Last year, I didn’t perform very well prior to Kazakhstan. I only had one top ten before that so Kazakhstan was a very important week for me and I hope I can repeat that this year.”Ritthammer admitted that the result in Kazakhstan filled him with the confidence that eventually saw him clinch the 15th European Tour card at Qualifying School Final Stage in PGA Catalunya.
“It definitely gave me a confidence boost last year and it would do the same again because my year has gone really badly so far,” he said. “I'm really looking forward to having a good week some time soon and hopefully it will be next week because the prize money is so big.”He believes he would be much more prepared for The European Tour if presented with the opportunity to return next season.
He said: “I think I put a lot of pressure on myself on The European Tour this year and I didn’t perform well at the start so I started to put more and more pressure on myself because I knew I would only get a few more chances and that made my game worse than usual.”“I usually started well and had a good first 27 holes and then on the back nine of the second day broke me a few times and I just lost my confidence through that, so I came back to the Challenge Tour. I have struggled a little bit here so far so I'm hoping for a good end to the season.
“I think you just need that experience on The European Tour, to know what it’s like to be there. At the end of the day it’s just four rounds of golf like it is here but you get more attention, more people watching and it influenced me in a bad way at the beginning.“I think if I could turn back the clock now to January, with the experience I have I think I would perform totally different. I think the next time I am prepared because I have experienced how it is up there.”
“I need at least one really good week now on the Challenge Tour so we’ll see what happens, but I'm confident. I'm looking forward to Kazakhstan and I enjoy it there so that’s the best way to be ahead of a tournament.“My game has been good for the last few weeks, although I'm struggling with my long game this week but all in all it’s getting better so that’s the important thing.”