Aaron Rai is hoping to build on the positive start he has made during his rookie season on the European Challenge Tour when he arrives in France for this week’s Najeti Open.
The 21 year old, who earned his playing rights for Europe’s top developmental tour after finishing inside the top five on the satellite EuroPro Tour, sits just outside the top 25 in the Challenge Tour Rankings after a tied 17th place finish in Belgium last week.
A tied third place in Turkey has been a highlight so far for the Englishman, who is relishing the chance to compete on the Road to Oman each week.
“I have found it so good so far, really enjoyed every event and feel like I have learned a lot,” said Rai, who won once on the EuroPro Tour last season where he competed against Jordan L Smith and Gary King, who have both claimed maiden Challenge Tour victories this year.
“I have played a number of different styles of courses and the standard of competition has been very good – there’s a lot more depth on the Challenge Tour – so on both accounts I believe I am improving as a player by being here. But I am also enjoying myself at the same time.
“I think the EuroPro tour is great preparation – all the satellite tours are really. You have to play very well throughout the course of the season and the standard and consistency of the competition stands you in good stead if you can finish high up on those tours.
“So far being pretty steady tee to green has been really important. In Turkey particularly, I putted very well that week which I thought was the difference. Generally, I try to prepare as well as possible for each week, have a good game plan, and stick to it as close as possible.
“My putting could be a little bit better. It is a decent part of my game but it would be nice to have a few more good weeks where I can make a few more putts - I think that is the difference for everyone out here.
“If you can get the ball rolling and hole a few more putts then you have a very good chance of competing and being up there.”
Aaron Rai finished tied third at the Turkish Airlines Challenge
The Wolverhampton-based player turned professional in 2012 aged 17 before competing on the EuroPro Tour for three years.
While he has made an impressive start to life on Europe’s top developmental tour, he remains calm yet focused on his aims for the season ahead.
“I am just going to see how it goes and take it week by week,” he said. “It is a very long season and there is such a way to go so you just need to take it tournament by tournament. I have loved every minute of it so far.”
Also competing in Saint Omer will be home favourite Matthieu Pavon, who is in second place on the Road to Oman.
Four other Frenchman also currently sit in the top 15, including reigning Amateur Champion Romain Langasque, and they will all tee it up this week.
Sweden’s Simon Forsstrom comes into the tournament in red hot form, after winning his maiden Challenge Tour title in Belgium.