Paul McGinley will hope to rekindle the form he showed in the early stages of the BMW PGA Championship when he tees up alongside some of The European Tour’s rising talent at the SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by NEUFLIZE OBC this week.
The Dubliner set a new record low 36 hole aggregate at Wentworth Club last month, carding a 13 under par total of 131 for the first two rounds to lead at the halfway stage, before eventually tying for tenth place behind winner Miguel Angel Jiménez.
McGinley, who has played in three successive European Ryder Cup winning Teams, is looking for his first win of the season, having finished third in the Ballantine’s Championship in March and tied seventh in the Estoril Open de Portugal in April.
The 41 year old, one of The European Tour’s most experienced professionals, will take on the new generation of professionals at the Aa Saint Omer Golf Club, as the top players from the European Challenge Tour join him in the field for the only dual ranking tournament of the 2008 season.
The event offers a one year exemption to The European Tour to the winner and with a prize fund of €600,000 on offer it is also an opportunity for the Challenge Tour players to climb the Rankings.
Argentine Estanislao Goya, playing in his first year on the Challenge Tour, could take a giant step towards joining The European Tour next year with a high finish in St Omer, as could England’s Gary Boyd, the current Challenge Tour Rankings leader.
François Calmels, Peter Fowler and Marcus Higley, who all tied for second last year behind winner Carl Suneson, will look to go one better this time round.
Australian Fowler heads into the tournament buoyed by a strong showing in the Bank Austria GolfOpen presented by Telekom Austria last week, where he tied for third place behind winner Jeev Milkha Singh.
He said: “The SAINT-OMER OPEN is a nice event. It’s very relaxed and the course is good. I have been playing well. I managed to put a few good rounds together in Austria so I’ll be looking forward to going to St Omer and trying to win.
“You always get courses where you play well on and you get the ones you don’t play well on. You get good vibes about certain events – I don’t know why that it is but I get them about St Omer and hopefully can play well enough to give myself a chance of winning.”
Similarly, England’s Iain Pyman travels to France having joined Fowler in a group of five players to tie for third on 12 under par in Austria, while François Delamontagne and Robert Rock will tee up after finishing a shot further back in tied eighth.
Cesar Monasterio, the 2006 champion, is also included in the field along with 2005 winner Joakim Bäckström and former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart.