Sunday, 07 October 2012
Gary Stal (Andreas Meier/freshfocus) ()
Gary Stal (Andreas Meier/freshfocus) ()

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As the final ALLIANZ-sponsored tournament of the 2012 European Challenge Tour season drew to a close in Lyon, French Golf Federation (FFG) Committee Member and President of the Rhône-Alpes region, Jean-Lou Charon, proclaimed that golf in the country is in the rudest of health.

Charon has had more reasons than most to be cheerful this year as a local player from his region, Lyon native Gary Stal, broke on to the Challenge Tour scene with two victories in his Rookie season.

Stal’s story follows a rising trend of French success on the Challenge Tour, with Benjamin Hebert, Edouard Dubois, Julien Quesne and Charles-Edouard Russo all finishing in the Challenge Tour top 20 last season to gain European Tour cards.

“It has been another successful year for us,” said Charon. “One thing I would like to say is that we are very proud to have this tournament in the Rhône-Alpes region.

“We believe that this tournament has a real future and we have to keep it going and try and grow to a point where we have bigger crowds. I’m quite sure that, with golf in the Olympics and The Ryder Cup coming to France in 2018, this sport will become more and more popular with the population.

“The French players are fighting more and have a real spirit now. They want to improve and achieve their goals and go a step further so everything is good.

“Having these tournaments in France I’m sure gives them a lift in their career and it is giving them the kind of platform to improve and do better every year.”

The future is certainly looking bright if this year’s ALLIANZ Open de Lyon is to go by with two young amateur, Romain Langasque and Clement Berardo, both making the weekend cut at Golf de Gouverneur.

Charon believes that these Challenge Tour tournaments are crucial in giving their young players a first chance to experience life on a major professional circuit and will be a big factor in the FFG's aim to produce some future Ryder Cup and Olympic stars.

“This is a way to show them how the world of professional golf works and they have a very good opportunity here to get an idea of the level,” he said. “It definitely improves their experience and gives them more reason to aim to go that extra step.

“Stal has won already twice and maybe he can win again before the end of the season but either way, he will be taking another step on the ladder so we have a lot of reasons to be happy.

“I had the pleasure to be at Medinah, it was a wonderful Sunday and such a unique experience to see all of the European people together celebrating.

“We certainly want some French players to play for Europe in The Ryder Cup in 2018 but hopefully we can have one earlier than that, maybe in Gleneagles in 2014 or in America in four years’ time and we are working on that in the Federation.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1DOAK, ChrisSCO18-13
T3HANSEN, Joachim BDEN18-12
T3SALTMAN, LloydSCO18-12
T6WALTERS, JustinRSA18-10
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