Amid all the inevitable excitement that surrounds the start of a new season at this week’s Barclays Kenya Open, Romain Langasque will be aiming to become the first player to take advantage of a change to the Challenge Tour regulations allowing amateurs to be ranked in the Road to Oman.
From this season onward, amateurs can be included in the year-long money list and, significantly, will keep their points once they turn professional.Frenchman Langasque is retaining his amateur status until next month so that he can compete at the Masters Tournament next month before joining paid ranks for the rest of the 2016 season.
I don't see why an amateur could not win - my game is feeling really good right now and I don't feel any added pressure
The 20 year old is the reigning Amateur Champion and acknowledges that his presence at Nairobi’s Karen Country Club this week is in no small part due to the new regulations for amateurs.
“The change in the Rankings was important for me,” he said. “It convinced me to play this week and it’s a great incentive for amateurs, a really good change they’ve made.
“I wanted to get some competitive golf in before I play in the Masters anyway, but to be able to get the benefit of points this week for after I turn professional is such a good thing.
“I feel totally ready for professional golf already. I almost turned pro last year but I decided to wait one more year because I wanted to finish my amateur career as number one.
“There is no real difference between amateur and professional golf – it is the same ball, same clubs, same courses, so of course I feel ready for it.
“I will play on Challenge Tour as much as I can this season. I will need some invites at first but hopefully I will get enough points in the Rankings to then qualify automatically.”
Langasque arrives in Kenya on great form after winning the Spanish International Amateur Championship at the start of the month, and he is confident he can be competitive in the Challenge Tour’s curtain-raiser.
“I don’t see why an amateur could not win,” he said. “My mentality is professional now anyway – I will play here and Augusta before turning pro but I will approach all the tournaments the same.
“My game is feeling really good right now. I won in Spain last week so I’m in good form, and I don’t feel any added pressure – my approach to every round, every shot, is the same, in practice or in competition.”
As inspiration goes, Langasque has not had to look back too far into the Challenge Tour annals, with many notable recent successes also hailing from France.
Last season, Clément Sordet claimed a maiden victory in just his fourth start as a professional, while compatriots Sebastien Gros and Thomas Linard graduated to the European Tour after finishing the season in the top 15 in the Road to Oman Rankings, in second and ninth position respectively.
“The French players have done well on the Challenge Tour recently, and I’m very good friends with Sebastien, who had such a great year last year,” said Langasque.“He was semi-finalist at the Amateur Championship a few years ago and now he is on the European Tour, so he has really shown what is possible for us. I’ve played a lot with him before, so he’s my inspiration this year.”