The European Challenge Tour will break new ground when the inaugural Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic takes place at Barranquilla Country Club, nestled on the idyllic Caribbean Coast of Colombia, from March 8-11.
The tournament will be the first co-sanctioning of a tournament between the Challenge and Pacific Colombia Tours and is expected to attract a strong field, with a prize fund of $250,000 on offer to the 144-man field.
It will be the first time the Challenge Tour has visited Barranquilla Country Club, a challenging golf course set on the outskirts of the city of Barranquilla and adjacent to the picturesque estuary where the River Magdalena meets the Caribbean Sea.
The Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic will be the second Challenge Tour event on the 2012 Schedule, after the season started with Max Kieffer’s exciting play-off win at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in January, and follows the Abierto International Copa Antioquia held in Colombia last year, when Argentinian Joaquin Estevez was the victor.
Alain de Soultrait, Director of the Challenge Tour, said: “We are delighted to be returning to Colombia, this time for the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic.
“It is a country which has proved a fantastic venue for golf, and Barranquilla Country Club in particular is sure to impress the players. The location is stunning, and the winds which sweep across the course are sure to provide a stern test.
“This is our first time co-sanctioning an event with the Pacific Colombia Tour, and we hope it is the start of a long and happy working relationship.
“The likes of Tano Goya, Andres Romero and Daniel Vancsik are prime examples of young South American players who have progressed onto The European Tour through the Challenge Tour, so we are hopeful of unearthing another South American star at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic.”
Goya, in particular, is a source of inspiration for many South American Challenge Tour hopefuls as he qualified for The European Tour via the Challenge Tour in 2008, finishing fifth in the Rankings having won both the Abierto VISA del Centro 2008 presentado por Personal and the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final that year.
He subsequently entered The European Tour winners’ enclosure at the Madeira Islands Open in 2009.
The field in Colombia will be made up of 72 Challenge Tour players and 72 players from the Pacific Colombia Tour, and the tournament will be promoted by German Calle, Director of Sportlink, who has many years’ experience of promoting the game of golf in South America.
Calle said: “Sportlink Colombia is committed to developing world class golf in our country and, in giving 20 spots for the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic 2012 to the top professionals in Colombia while also handing out a further 25 spots in an International Qualifier, we believe this tournament will provide huge opportunities for golfers in this region.“For us, it is a privilege to have more than 70 Challenge Tour players in a tournament that will provide World Golf Ranking points and provides a great opportunity to qualify for The European Tour.”