England’s Stuart Davis, inspired by Europe’s victory in The Ryder Cup, leads the ALLIANZ Golf Open du Grand Toulouse in France after an opening four under par 67.
The afterglow of Europe’s triumph at The Celtic Manor Resort is being felt far and wide and for the next crop of future champions on the Challenge Tour, the dramatic triumph has served are further motivation to join the Ryder Cup heroes on The European Tour.
Davis was gripped by The Ryder Cup on TV, enthralled by the putts drained through all four days, and on return to competitive action this week at Golf de Toulouse-Seilh, managed to hole his own fair share to set the clubhouse lead.
“The putter was hot - 26 putts is the best putting round I have had for a long time,” he said.
“The thing that came across to me about The Ryder Cup was how good they all were under pressure and how good their short game was. The pitches and putts they holed were just tremendous. It was great for European golf. It was tight but all credit to the lads who did us all proud.”
Welshman Stuart Manley, who was in the crowd on the first tee at Celtic Manor on Friday morning for the opening tee shots, was similarly inspired as he shot a three under par 68 to lie in the group one off the lead.
“What an experience, and if I needed any more motivation to get back on Tour that was it,” said Manley, currently 24th on the Challenge Tour Rankings and looking to climb into the top 20 over the next four events to get his card. “The Ryder Cup was simply inspirational and now I desperately want to get back on Tour to compete with these guys.
“What an atmosphere it was. I was on the first tee on Friday morning and the noise was incredible. I have played Walker Cup but that was nothing compared to The Ryder Cup. I only live 45 minutes from Celtic Manor and while Friday’s weather was disappointing, the way it finished on Monday with the sunshine painted such a great picture for Wales.”
Manley was joined on three under by Scot Lloyd Saltman and local favourite Olivier David, a native of Toulouse.
The Frenchman regularly uses the practice facilities at Golf de Toulouse-Seilh and was unfazed by the strong wind that swept across the course.
“I’m very pleased as you have to play steady in this wind,” said David. “I managed to keep to ball in play which wasn’t easy with so many crosswinds and got lucky on a few occasions. I have a lot of friends and family here. It’s a lovely part of France to live with so much to do and this is a great event.”
Saltman has hit a rich vein of form with a top ten in this last three events – the M2M Russian Challenge Cup on the Challenge Tour as well as the First Stage of Qualifying School and a Europro Tour event. That form continued with a round of five birdies and two dropped shots and should stand him in good stead as the season heads towards a climax.
The ALLIANZ Golf Open du Grand Toulouse is the fourth last event of the Challenge Tour season at the end of which the top 20 will graduate to The European Tour.