Andreas Hartø will hope to feast on the memories of 2012 as he returns to the D+D Real Czech Challenge for the first time since winning the inaugural edition in sensational style.
The Dane surged clear of his compatriot JB Hansen with a quartet of closing birdies to finish on 24 under par, an aggregate winning total which is yet to be matched in the two subsequent editions of the €170,000 event.
It was the third victory of Hartø’s Challenge Tour career, and helped him finish third in the final Rankings to seal a swift return to The European Tour.
After losing his playing privileges on the top tier following a 163rd place finish in The 2014 Race to Dubai, however, Hartø is back at Golf & Spa Kunetická Hora, in Drítec, hoping that lightning can strike twice.
Hartø, who has been paired with defending champion Thomas Linard in the first two rounds, said: “It’s nice to be back. I remember which room I stayed in three years ago and I remember lots of the people I met, so I’ve got some very happy memories of the place.
“The final day was crazy, to finish with four birdies was obviously pretty special and I remember I holed some long putts, especially on the 17th. The support was amazing and it was just a great day. For JB to finish second made it more memorable, and we were both very happy for each other.
“With me winning and JB coming second, we both pretty much secured our European Tour cards that day, because it was the third last tournament of the season. So we celebrated with a night out in Prague – now that I don’t remember so well!”
Hartø’s hopes of a repeat win have been boosted by some encouraging recent performances, including back to back top ten finishes in Turkey and his native Denmark.
Those results moved him into the top 20 of the Road to Oman Rankings, although he subsequently dropped out after missing the cut in Austria last week.
But this week’s layout, designed by Australian architect Graham Marsh, is much more to Hartø’s liking, as it requires a more strategic approach which plays to his strengths.
He said: “I really like the shape and definition of this course. It has a nice feel to it, and it sets up well for me because I can see the shots on most holes. I also like the Czech Republic in general, it’s a very beautiful country and the people here are very friendly. It’s just got a nice vibe to it so I always really enjoy coming back here.
“I struggled on the main Tour last year, but now that I’m away from the spotlight it’s allowed me to work on a few areas I think I need to improve on. I’ve had a few decent results already this season – it’s probably the first time I’ve had two top tens in a row since 2012. So I’m getting there slowly, and hopefully I can keep the good work going this week.”