Wednesday, 03 October 2012
Alex Kaleka (Picture Credit / Phil Inglis) ()
Alex Kaleka (Picture Credit / Phil Inglis) ()
Alexandre Kaleka returns to the scene of his breath-taking Challenge Tour debut victory in 2009 when he joins the strong field at the ALLIANZ Open de Lyon this week.

There is a lot at stake for many of the players at Golf de Gouverneur, outside Lyon, with just three weeks to go before the season-ending Apulia San Domenico Grand Final in Italy, where the top 45 players in the Challenge Tour Rankings will battle it out for the 20 European Tour cards on offer.

Kaleka, however, can afford to be a little more relaxed after his victory at the M2M Russian Challenge Cup last month, which moved him into the top ten of the Rankings and guaranteed him a place in the 2013 Race to Dubai.

The 25 year old is feeling confident about his game and is hoping that memories of his shock victory three years ago, which came just six days after he turned professional, can give him a boost as he searches for a third Challenge Tour title.

“I did not play very well in Spain last week but overall I’m feeling good at the moment,” said Kaleka. “My win here seems like a long time ago but I remembered some shots and some moments when I played in the Pro-Am this week.

“I'm sure it will be exciting playing here again. The course is looking pretty good this week, given that it is October and sometimes the weather can be a factor. I think it is going to be quite fair.

“I feel more relaxed going into tournaments now and I think I am ready to win again. I know it’s not going to happen every week but I know now how to react in those situations.

“There is no reason why I cannot win. I hit a lot of good shots in practice and felt good on the greens. My short game is always sharp and if I have a good attitude and start well on Thursday I will have a good week.”

Kaleka is the only player to have won this tournament in its current guise and not gone on to win on The European Tour, with 2008 champion David Horsey, 2010 winner Bernd Wiesberger and last year’s victor Julien Quesne all progressing to claim titles on the big stage.

The Orleans man is determined to rewrite that statistic, however, and has certainly shown the kind of consistent form this season which suggests he will have no problem making the step up to The European Tour on his second attempt.

“That is my main goal next year,” he said. “I’m going out there to win as soon as possible. I am already thinking about the early tournaments next season on The European Tour and the courses I will play.

“I want to win before 2013 and I think I’m hitting much better shots now. My ball flight is better and this year I was very strong mentally. I had a good attitude and even when I played badly I still felt good about my game and that has been the most important thing for me.”

Kaleka joins an extremely strong field for the final of four ALLIANZ-sponsored events on this year’s Challenge Tour schedule and the local favourite is sure to be 20 year old Gary Stal.

Stal has been a revelation this year with two wins in his rookie season and the Lyon native would seal a fairytale rise to The European Tour with a win this week.

A total of 12 winners on the Challenge Tour this year are present, including American Brooks Koepka, who claimed his maiden professional victory at last week’s Challenge de Catalunya.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1DOAK, ChrisSCO18-13
2SLUITER, TimNED18-13
T3HANSEN, Joachim BDEN18-12
T3GARCIA PINTO, JordiESP18-12
T3SALTMAN, LloydSCO18-12
T6WALTERS, JustinRSA18-10
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