Man of the moment Robert Coles and last year’s runner-up Christian Nilsson come into this week in contrasting form, but with the same aim: to win the SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC.
The ultra-consistent Coles is yet to finish outside the top 20 in six Challenge Tour starts this season, and is now on course to make a swift return to The European Tour, having added the Challenge of Ireland presented by Moyvalley last week to the MOROCCAN CLASSIC by BANQUE POPULAIRE title he lifted in May.
But despite sitting pretty atop the Challenge Tour Rankings with earnings of €58,541, the 36 year old is refusing to get carried away.
He said: “I obviously took a lot of confidence from my win last week, but the main thing here this week is to get myself into contention. I played well last year and got myself into contention, only to fall away on the last day and finish seventh. That was my highest finish here, so if I can match or better that this week, I’ll be very pleased. With so much money at stake this week, a decent performance would really be a big boost, not just to my confidence but also to my position in the Rankings.
“Obviously I’d love to win three times and get onto The European Tour, but it can be dangerous to get too far ahead of yourself in golf. That’s especially true of this course, because it can catch you out. If I start talking about three wins and then miss the cut, I’m going to look pretty stupid!
“The greens here are always tricky – they’re very fast, and there’s lots of slopes. So you’re going to have to be on top of your game on and around the greens if you’re going to win here. If you can putt well, you can probably score well – so if I can putt as well as I did in Ireland last week, I should be ok.”
Nilsson also cited an improved putting performance in his return to form at The Celtic Manor Wales Open, where he finished just outside the top 50 after making the cut for the first time in four events.
The Swede will now hope to draw on his display at Aa St Omer Golf Club 12 months ago, when he equalled the course record on the second day with a round of 64 en route to finishing runner-up behind eventual winner David Dixon of England.
Nilsson said: “I have some very good memories of my second place. I played very well on the second day, and then nearly made it over the line on the final day – but not quite. So I’m hoping to go one better this year. It’s always nice to come back to a course where you’ve played before, so I’m looking forward to a good week.
“The course is playing very similar to last year. The greens are tricky again – some of them are very fast. If the wind picks up like it can, then that makes life even trickier. So we’re going to be in for some fun and games, and high scoring. I think the winning score last year was only around five under, so even though the course is not that long, you don’t see that many low scores.
“Particularly with some of the pin positions round here, it can be tough to shoot low. So putting will definitely be key this week. I putted quite well in Wales two weeks ago, although the greens are very different from here. Hopefully I can keep the three putts to a minimum, because that can kill you round here. If I can do that, I’ll have a chance.”