The perfect setting
Already a winner twice on the Challenge Tour this season, Antoine Rozner could secure automatic promotion to the European Tour with victory this week. The 26-year-old triumphed at the Challenge de España before following that up with victory at the very next event, the Prague Golf Challenge. He has already come close to earning automatic promotion this season, finishing tied fourth at the Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil, and will go in search of that elusive third victory on home soil in Le Vaudreuil this week, a tournament in which he came tied fourth last year.
It may not have the largest prize fund on the Challenge Tour International Schedule, but Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge has proved to be an important one to win. Since its inception in 2013, each year’s winner has played on the European Tour in the following season, and five are still doing so now. Aaron Rai, who won the 2017 event, 2016 winner Alexander Björk, 2015 champion Ryan Fox and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston, who won in 2014, are all now playing top level golf, in addition to last year’s winner Richard McEvoy. McEvoy triumphed in Le Vaudreuil and opted not to take his winner’s spot at the following week’s Euram Bank Open as he had already committed to playing in the Porsche European Open on the European Tour; and what a decision that turned out to be. The Englishman sensationally won in Germany, holding off World Number Six Bryson DeChambeau to secure full playing privileges on the top tier.
It was quite a week for Irish duo Robin Dawson and Cormac Sharvin last week, as they displayed excellent performances at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on the European Tour. Dawson finished tied 27th in Lahinch, with the highlight being a sensational six under par 64 on day three which included four back nine birdies as he stormed into contention. A closing one over par 71 meant he never threatened at the top on the final day, but will take great confidence in his Rolex Series outing. Another Irishman who performed well in Lahinch was Sharvin, who posted rounds of 66-69-66-70 to finish tied 15th and ended just seven shots off winner Jon Rahm, who posted a final day 62 to win.
Two of four
Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge is the second event of the season to take place on French soil, after last month’s Hauts de France – Pas de Calais Golf Open which was won by home favourite Robin Roussel. Roussel will tee it up again this week alongside a host of French names, including three-time European Tour winner Grégory Havret. After this week, the Challenge Tour will fly around Europe before returning to French airspace in September, for two events in three weeks. The Open de Bretagne takes place from September 5-8, before the Hopps Open de Provence brings 2019’s French events to a close from September 26-29.
The race for the top 15 is now well under way as Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge rolls around, which is the tenth event of the 24-tournament long Rankings race. Eight out of nine tournaments winners currently occupy spots in the top 15, led by two-time champion Antoine Rozner, with Eirik Tage Johansen the only one not in control of a top 15 berth, with the Norwegian currently lying 16th in the Rankings. With the season in its infancy, anyone who wins will find themselves comfortably in those all important graduation places, but now Johansen has slipped out, it shows the time has come where those players who are showing consistency in performance without winning are beginning to put pressure on those at the top.