Frenchman Alex Kaleka will relive some “special” memories when he returns this week to the ALLIANZ Golf Open de Lyon, the scene of his maiden European Challenge Tour win on his first appearance as a professional.
The 23 year old triumphed in stunning fashion just days after he joined the paid ranks, shooting a course record 63 in the first round having not even practised at Golf du Gouverneur in Monthieux, France.
He was the ninth player to win on his Challenge Tour debut and the first to do so on his professional debut.
“It was a very special moment,” said Kaleka. “I was a bit nervous on the first day as it was my first round as a pro and I didn’t expect a lot. I just tried to play my best and it worked well.
“I was in contention and I was used to being in that position as an amateur so it was not a big shock to win. It was a dream start.”
That victory has been the springboard for a promising start to his first full season on the Challenge Tour, and the Montpellier man showed his burgeoning talent with a third place finish in the Telenet Trophy and tied 11th place in Madeira Islands Open – BPI Portugal on The European Tour.
“It will be great going back to Lyon because it’s the first time for me to be going somewhere as defending champion,” Kaleka continued. “I’d never won before. I'm looking forward to going back – I love Lyon and it has a lot of good things, particularly the food.
“If I am in the same situation this year it’ll be good. I will have extra confidence this time for sure, because I know how to win on that course. I know I can play it well so I am quite confident if I play well and putt well I can win.
“I’m happy with how I’m playing at the moment, although I’ve struggled a little bit with the putter recently. But the rest of the game is in good shape.”
Kaleka was the highest placed Frenchman last week in The Princess in Sweden, and will hope to emulate the 2008 ALLIANZ Golf Open de Lyon champion David Horsey, who recently won the BMW International Open in Munich on The European Tour.
“That is what I hope to do,” he added. “This season I want to get my European Tour card and it would be a dream to win.”
François Calmels, Julien Guerrier and Michael Lorenzo-Vera are also among the French contingent hoping to win on home soil, and Thorbjorn Olesen will be hoping to make it back-to-back victories after his triumph in The Princess in Sweden last week.
“Of course I’ll be going to France to win,” said the Dane. “When you win you just want to keep that form and keep your shape and hope your game stays in such good form.”