The European Tour and European Challenge Tour come together for the second time in 2004 for the dual ranking BMW Russian Open at Le Meridien Moscow Country Country Club, Moscow, Russia, this weekend.
While Volvo Order of Merit leader, South African Ernie Els, and 42 of his fellow European Tour Members will be doing battle for the season’s fourth and final Major Championship at the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straights, Kohler, Wisconsin, USA, the remaining European Tour players have the opportunity to go head to head with their Challenge Tour counterparts in Russia.
Last season saw a thrilling finale to the competition, with then Challenge Tour colleagues Marcus Fraser of Australia and Austria’s Martin Wiegele going head to head in sudden-death play-of that Fraser went on to win and secure immediate promotion to The European Tour.
Wiegele, meanwhile, kicked on from there and – along with Martin LeMesurier and José Manuel Carrilles – took the race for the Number One Spot on the Challenge Tour Rankings all the way to the Challenge Tour Grand Final, where Sweden’s Johan Edfors was eventually crowned Number One.
Three past BMW Russian Open champions will feature at Le Meridien Moscow Country Club, the Italian pair of Marco Bernardini (winner in 2000) and Michele Reale (1997) and Englishman Ian Pyman (1999 and 2002).
Pyman is the only player to have won the BMW Russian Open twice in its eight year history and will be looking to improve on his current 172nd place on the Volvo Order of Merit over a course he knows inside out.
He will meet strong resistance from the likes of Scotland’s Andrew Coltart, who made his debut in the BMW Russian Open last season and finished in a tie for fourth place, while current Challenge Tour Number One Alessandro Tadini will be keen to continue a wonderful season that has seen him accumulate €78,795.
This season sees the ninth BMW Russian Open at the Robert Trent Jones Jnr designed course situated at Nakhabino in the Krasnogorsky District – some 40 km north west of Moscow.