The European Challenge Tour returns to Almaty’s Nurtau GC for the 11th staging of the Kazakhstan Open, the biggest event of the season with a prize fund of €450,000.
The stakes could hardly be higher with just five tournaments remaining before the Road to Oman Rankings are finalised and the top 15 graduate to The European Tour for next season.
Here are four players we think will thrive under the added pressure this week:
The Dutch youngster graduated from the Challenge Tour in 2013 but found himself back on the development circuit this year after a testing first season on The European Tour.
Still only 24 years old, Huizing secured his best result of the season at last week’s Cordon Golf Open, tying for second place to jump up into 13th place in the Road to Oman Rankings.
Huizing also has three other top ten finishes to his name this season, he made the cut on his previous visit to Kazakhstan in 2013, and, with two top three finishes in his last three events, signs are that he is peaking at the right time this year.
Hahn is another player with European Tour experience, having claimed his card for last season by finishing seventh at the 2013 Qualifying School.
The American forms part of a marquee group for the opening two rounds in Almaty, playing alongside South African Haydn Porteous, currently tenth in the Road to Oman Rankings, and Australia’s Scott Arnold, champion at last week’s Cordon Golf Open.
Hahn has shown eye-catching form of his own this season, his tie for fourth in France his third top five finish in his last four outings on the Challenge Tour, and the 26 year old will be targeting a big week here to improve on his current Ranking of 25th.
Evans, like Hahn, needs a few good results in the back end of the season if he is to jump from 27th in the Rankings to the top 15 and a spot on The European Tour.
The Englishman has an impressive record in the opening rounds of tournaments this year, shooting below 70 in eight of his 12 Challenge Tour events, but has only sustained his challenge twice, the first being his tie for third place at the Kӓrnten Golf Open presented by Mazda.
More recently the 28 year old tied for fourth at the ROLEX Trophy, hinting that he may now have found the consistency to contend all the way through big events – this is as good a chance as any to prove it.
Foos announced himself to the golfing world when he won the GANT Open last month, in the process becoming the youngest tournament winner in Challenge Tour history (see highlights above).
The German then shot 65 in the opening round at the ROLEX Trophy before fading, but he has taken the last couple of weeks off and should be fresh coming into this week.
During that break Foos turned 18 and on a course where precision will be more important than power, with penal thick rough lining the fairways, he will be hoping for a belated birthday celebration on Sunday.