Marco Crespi is relishing the prospect of defending a European Challenge Tour title for the first time in his career at this week’s Telenet Trophy at Royal Waterloo Golf Club, close to the Belgian capital of Brussels.
The Italian stole the show in front of huge crowds at Ravenstein Royal Golf Club last year, storming to a three shot victory to claim his maiden Challenge Tour title.
While the 34 year old could not take full advantage of that victory and earn a European Tour card for the 2013 season, he is delighted to be returning to Belgium to defend his crown.
“I cannot wait to play there as a defending champion,” he said. “I was in the flow in the back nine and had four birdies in a row and then when I was on the 18th tee I was just thinking about what club to play, nothing else.
“I hit the rescue and it went down the centre of the fairway and when I made the green with my approach I thought, ‘OK this is it’. There were a lot of people for the final round so it was great, a really good experience.
“I know it’s a different course but they are very similar so I think it will be good for me.”
While he is not returning to the course on which he triumphed, Crespi admits to having a lfondness for the Belgian layouts and thinks Royal Waterloo, Nicolas Colsaerts’ home club, will suit him down to the ground.
“I like the Belgian courses because they are old style courses, in the woods and tight,” he said. “My game is good too right now. At Madeira I wasn’t great from 100 metres so it just wasn’t my course but otherwise, it has been good so I'm pretty confident.
“My game has improved over the last winter. I worked a lot on my long game and my putting and my putting especially is very good now so I think I can have a good season. Hopefully I can get another win or maybe two or three!”
Crespi is joined in the field by all four of the winners in regular Challenge Tour events this season, with Shiv Kapur, winner of the season-opening Gujarat Kensville Challenge, playing his first event since winning back in January.
Also present are Barclays Kenya Open champion Jordi Garcia Pinto, Challenge de España winner François Calmels – a former Telenet Trophy champion - and Brooks Koepka, who claimed his second Challenge Tour title at the Montecchia Golf Open presented by POLAROID.
Former European Tour winners in the field include Nick Dougherty, Raymond Russell and Daniel Vancsik, while the 2012 Amateur Open Champion Alan Dunbar of Northern Ireland is also competing.