Carlos Del Moral (Getty Images)
Carlos del Moral is hoping his run of recent form continues at this week’s Fred Olsen Challenge de España, where he is bidding to become only the second home winner of the event.
The 24 year old, who believes he is currently playing some of the best golf of his career, boasts an impressive record on home soil, having finished in a tie for 12th place at this year’s Open de España and seventh at the 2008 Madrid Masters – his best European Tour performance to date.
Del Moral heads to Tecina Golf in La Gomera, the Canary Islands, on the back of some encouraging recent results, including a 21st place finish at the Estoril Open de Portugal, which he led after two rounds.
Having never before played the 6,937 yards, par 71 course he cannot rely on local knowledge, but does carry previous experience of the playing conditions on the Canary Islands, having competed five years ago in the dual ranking Abama Open de Canarias – an event won by England’s John Bickerton.
Del Moral said: “I’ve been looking forward to this tournament for a while now. The Canary Islands is a beautiful place with great scenery and fantastic weather, so I think everyone’s going to enjoy the week. I’m staying with Jordi Garcia and Alvaro Garcia, who I know very well from our amateur days and from playing together in the Spanish national team, so it’ll be just like old times. We get along really well, and whilst it won’t be a holiday for us, it will be a fun week – especially if Spain win their next two World Cup games!
“I’ve never played this course before but I’ve heard good things about it, so I’m looking forward to seeing it for myself. I played the 2005 Open de Canarias at Abama Golf Club on The European Tour, and whilst I didn’t play that well I do remember the course, which was beautiful. It can get quite windy in the Canary Islands though, so your ball control has to be good.
“My game at the moment is probably as good as it’s ever been. My patience isn’t quite as good as I’d like, so that’s what I’ve been trying to work on. I played very well for the first two days in Portugal and quite well again in St Omer last week, so I think we’re getting there slowly. I’ve also been working much harder on my fitness, and that seems to be paying off too. So my game and my body are both in really good shape at the minute.”
Of Del Moral’s compatriots it is perhaps Arruti who arrives on the Canary Islands in the best form, having finished tied second at last week’s re-scheduled Moroccan Golf Classic.
Arruti, a veteran of no fewer than 21 visits to The European Tour Qualifying School, finished tied fifth at last year’s Fred Olsen Challenge de España, which was won by Welshman Rhys Davies – who has since taking The European Tour by storm, with victory at the Trophée Hassan II and five other top ten finishes to his name.
Arruti was joined in the top ten 12 months ago by his compatriots Jorge Campillo (tied eighth), Luis Claverie and Pedro Oriol (both tied third), all of whom return to Tecina Golf this year.
England’s Robert Dinwiddie stretched his lead at the top of the Rankings after finishing tied second at the dual ranking SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC, and another top ten finish at Tecina Golf would all but guarantee him a return to The European Tour at the first time of asking.
Hoping to join him on the top tier is his compatriot Matt Haines, who finished alongside Dinwiddie in a tie for second place at Aa St Omer Golf Club.
That earned Haines €36,152, which rocketed the 20 year old from Kent up the Challenge Tour Rankings and into genuine contention to claim a place in The 2011 Race to Dubai.
The Fred Olsen Challenge de España is this year celebrating its 11th edition, with Carl Suneson the first and still only Spaniard to take the title when he won in 1999.