We take our My European Tour members exclusively behind the scenes at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic...
Challenge Tour Tweets of the Week
@birdieblitz (Callum Macaulay)
"Moving day in Colombia, at least the trees aren't moving, 'as much'. Wind seems calmer today, trees still leaning though!
@jgidney (Jonathan Gidney)
"Nice to see Nick Dogherty underground par again ! Ready for the fight !"
@birdieblitz83 (Callum Macaulay)
"@Challenge_Tour just bought a new bottle of factor 50 for the next 3 days. roasting isn't the word. hopefully my putter is just as hot."
@hansonprogolf (Chris Hanson)
@JGidney (Jonathan Gidney)
@lasjensen (Lasse Jensen)
"8:00am t time tmr
@Challenge_Tour in Barranquilla. thank god I'm not teeing off at 6:40..."
@large16 (European Tour caddy Garry Cooper)
"Played practice round today. bit of a wild wind! course is going to be VERY tricky, but excited about the challenge.
"Just a gentle breeze on the
@Challenge_Tour this week!! Wow."
@lasjensen (Lasse Jensen)
Lorenzo-Vera and Lima give coaching clinic to local kids
Two of the Challenge Tour's more experienced campaigners, European Tour winner José-Filipe Lima and Michael Lorenzo-Vera, were given to the opportunity to give something back to the local community of Barranquilla after their third rounds on Saturday as they gave coaching lessons to kids (and watchful parents) from the local area.
Portuguese Lima and Frenchman Lorenzo-Vera, also two of the real characters on the Challenge Tour, were popular hosts as they mixed the serious golf lesson with the light-hearted fool-around, Lorenzo-Vera taking a few turns to hit shots with a kid's sized club at one point, as pictured above.
After the hour-long clinic, the players took questions from the young and the old alike on the driving range, answering questions about their careers, their swing and the game in general.
Players take time to relax after hard day's work
While some of the golfers at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic have decades of experience travelling the length and breadth of the world, Country Club de Barranquilla has given many a new experience in the shape of gusts of up to 40kph mixed with circa 30 degree heat.
With that in mind, many were thanking their lucky stars when they were afforded the opportunity to relax and unwind in a local spa, Genavíe.
There, they can sit back and enjoy a massage and let go of any stress that may have been endured on the golf course. Here's hoping the Challenge Tour staff will be afforded the luxury at the end of a hard week!
Valderrama still has pulling power
At the risk of turning our Slice of the Colombian Action blog into a Carlos Valderrama online shrine, having already mentioned him twice below, we couldn't help but notice the Colombian football legend's presence on the front cover of a book promoting the Carnaval de Barranquilla (above) and we couldn't resist sharing it with the Challenge Tour world.
The furry-headed legend, also known as "El Pibe" ("The Kid"), still holds serious pulling power in this part of the world, as much for his footballing ability as his outgoing demeanour and spectacular curls no doubt, and they talk about him at length here in Barranquilla, where he played his club football for two years from 1993-1995.
Seemingly, the obsession is contagious!
New kids on the Colombian block enjoying Challenge Tour experience
While the Challenge Tour prides itself on producing the best young stars in golf, there are certainly a few faces this week fresher than you would get at your average professional tournament.
Amongst the Colombian players on show are a host of promising amateurs, with 19 year old Celia Ricardo making the biggest impression as he was in the shake-up on the second day at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic.
Edgardo Arrazola Jr is another amateur player threatening the leaderboard at just 18 years of age while further down, 14 year old Hernando Baquero and 16 year old Sebastian Sojo were making a great account of themselves and were sure to be relishing every minute of their time amongst the big boys.
Blowing up a storm
For the second time in as many Challenge Tour tournaments in 2012, the players present will have to contend with some challenging conditions as winds of up to 34 kph hit Colombia's idyllic Carribean coastline ahead of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic.
While the weather is still quite beautiful, word amongst the players is that the winds will ensure a challenging week, although Chief Referee Mark Litton was confident that it wouldn't cause any problems with moving balls.
And, let's face it, we can't complain. At an average of 30 degrees celcius, it's a little bit better weather than home!
Sports stars aplenty in players' hotel
Our Challenge Tour stars are not the only elite sportsmen with their game faces on in Barranquilla this week as they are sharing a hotel with a Bolivian football team, Club Bolívar, who are here to play Athlético Junior of Barranquilla in an international South American cup competition.
Athlético Junior, who as you may have read below, once boasted the great Carlos Valderrama on their team-sheet, host their Bolivian counter-parts at the 60,000 capacity Estadio Metropolitano in the Mustang Cup.
Junior's last game in the competition yielded a 2-1 win over Colombian side Itagui but Barranquilla's biggest football club are currently struggling in mid-table in the Colombian league.
Silence is golden at Barranquilla traffic lights
One of the Challenge Tour's greatest selling points is the fact that its players get to experience the sights, sounds and smells in some of the most far-out places on the golfing map and Colombia certainly stands out in its unique cultural splendour.
One of the many weird and wonderful sights on the drive to the golf course from the hotel is the entertainers at traffic lights looking to entertain the passing drivers in exchange for a few coppers, with face-painted mime artists a particularly dominent presence.
Maybe, after a few days of seeing the Titleist, Callaway and Abacus-clad players pass by on the bus, any particularly enterprising mimes might think of attempting to perform a golf swing as part of their act.
Barranquilla - our tips don’t lie
The Challenge Tour breaks new ground this week when the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic is hosted in Country Club de Barranquilla, just outside the town of Barranquilla on Colombia’s Carribbean coast, for the first time.
As always, we endeavour to bring you some interesting and random facts and tips about our host town and here are a few little gems:
• Barranquilla has produced two of Colombia’s most famous world-renowned superstars; pop singer Shakira and star of American sitcom Modern Family and movies such as Puss in Boots, The Smurfs and New Year’s Eve, Sofia Vergara, are both from the town.
• The town hosts a cultural festival which is recognized by UNESCO and is one of the biggest festivals in the world, Carnaval de Barranquilla, which dates back to the 19th Century. (Unfortunately for the players and staff this week, the Carnival was put back by three weeks to mid-February in 2012!)
• The city is also home to South America’s oldest airport - Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport, which was built in 1919.
• It is Colombia’s fourth-most populated city with 1.1 million inhabitants.
• One of Brazil’s greatest ever footballers, the bow-legged Garrincha, played one game for Barranquilla’s top football team, Athletico Junior, during a feted career which saw him become known as one of the best dribblers the game has ever known.
• One of Colombia’s most famous players, Carlos Valderrama, also played for Athletico Junior, between 1993-1995.