After the best finish of his career on European golf’s second tier, Terry Pilkadaris heads to Germany hungry to go one better at the Aegean Airlines Challenge Tour by Hartl Resort.
He finished three strokes adrift of eventual winner Andrew Johnstone last week in Scotland, which continued a fine run of form that has seen Pilkadaris jump to 13th on the Rankings, from a mere four starts so far in 2014.
His runner up finish at Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Cub saw him finish alongside this season’s only two time winner – Moritz Lampert – and followed on from a tie for sixth at the Belgian Challenge Open the week before.
Pilkadaris posted three top ten finishes on the Challenge Tour in 2013, en route to a 46th place finish on the Rankings, with a tie for 16th at this event 12 months ago contributing to that. The Australian likes the Beckenbauer Course, it suits his game, and he is therefore in confident mood ahead of this week.
“I feel good, and I like this course,” said the 31 year old. “I played well here last year, as you just have to drive it straight. It is not one of those courses where you can hit driver all the time, you’ve got to keep it in play, and that suits me fine.
“It has been going good so far this year. I played well in Belgium and really good in Scotland, so hopefully I will continue that form.
“I started playing well back home at the start of the year, then played OK in Asia, so now I’m doing the European swing for a bit. I’ll be playing most of the summer over here, and finishing second has changed a few things, so I’ll have to rejig my schedule a little bit. I was only planning on playing seven or eight this year, but now it will be a few more.
“I like the golf course, you have to play to certain positions in the fairways to get to pins, really think you’re way round, which I like. I played today and the greens were quite soft, whereas last year it was a little firmer. With the good weather it can still firm up quite quickly though.”
There is no question as to what Pilkadaris is aiming for this season, and that is a European Tour card. His fast start to the year has put him in a strong position to finish in the top 15 on the Rankings that would earn him a spot on The Race to Dubai, but the Australian is fully aware that it will not be easy, considering the strength in depth evident each week on the Challenge Tour.
“They really dangle that carrot with the top 15 cards getting on to The European Tour, and I’m 13th at the moment,” said the man from Melbourne. “It is a pretty big carrot they are dangling and you’ve got to make the most of it. I’ll play three or four more events over here now, and go from there.
“The quality of play is good, and that carrot of The European Tour is a pretty big one, considering the money they play for out there. That’s the incentive for all of us.
“Hopefully I’ll win this week, get another two, and you’re there. Moritz Lampert is almost there, and I spoke to him on Sunday and he said there is so much talk and hype it is hard to focus.
“He played great on the back nine last week, I shot four under and he shot seven, it was impressive. Whether it is technology and all this information that’s available, everyone can get their hands on it now and everyone is utilising it a lot better. Winning scores aren’t lower, but the fields are much more bunched. That means anyone can come out of the pack, and it just proves the depth of talent out here on the Challenge Tour.”