As the Challenge Tour touches down for its ‘Nordic swing’ at the Finnish Challenge this week, Andreas Hartø is hoping he can earn his first win of a consistent season in which he has been a mainstay in the Challenge Tour Rankings’ top five.
The Dane returned to the Challenge Tour this year after a meteoric rise in 2010, in which he won two tournaments, including on his Challenge Tour debut at the ECCO Tour Championship in his homeland while still an amateur, before claiming a European Tour card for 2011 at the Qualifying School Final Stage.
The 24 year old did not make an impression on the big stage last year, but believes he came out the other side a much better player and is hoping his first win of the season is just around the corner.
“It has been a great year so far,” said Hartø. “I've played really steadily. The last few weeks haven’t been so great and I wasn’t really at my best last week in England (at the English Challenge). I'm getting the ball in the hole though, and making the cut helps so that’s a good sign that I can make cuts even if I’m struggling a little bit.
“I've had five top ten finishes and a couple of big ones - Madeira obviously being the biggest - but I just have to try and play steadily from here on in and hopefully get a few top fives and see what happens. I'm going to try to get a win too. Obviously that’s always the goal, to win tournaments.
“In 2010 I was riding a wave, whereas right now I'm just playing more steadily than that. The last four months of 2010 were just like one big joyride and it’s hard to get back to that. Part of this year has been very good though, and I'm just trying to have fun and play steady golf.
“Last year was a great experience. I learned a lot out there and I use that all the time on the Challenge Tour, so it was definitely a great experience. I'm taking all of that experience with me now to just do my best here and get back on to The European Tour.
“I grew a lot last year as a person and as a player. My bad shots are not as bad as they were last year and it makes a big difference if you’re making bogeys instead of double bogeys and triple bogeys, so that’s been a big change.”
Hartø will play two of the three tournaments in the Nordic region - the Finnish Challenge and his home Challenge Tour tournament, the ECCO Tour Championship hosted by Thomas Björn and Mercedes-Benz - but he will miss the Norwegian Challenge.
He is thoroughly looking forward to both, and has heard great things about Kytäjä Golf in Hyvinkää, which hosts the tournament for the first time.
“I've heard it’s one of the best courses in Finland so I'm looking forward to it,” said Hartø. “I'm moving into a new place during the week of the Norwegian Challenge, so I won’t be able to make that tournament but I’m looking forward to Finland and then going back to Denmark two weeks later.
“I'm bringing my girlfriend to Finland next week and I haven’t seen her in a while, so that should be nice. I'm looking forward to Denmark too - it’s going to be fun going back to Scandinavia.”
Eight Challenge Tour winners from the 2012 season will be present in Finland this week – Espen Kofstad, Gary Stal, Raymond Russell, Sam Walker, Marco Crespi, Seve Benson, Max Kieffer and last week’s English Challenge winner, Chris Paisley.
A number of players who have been plying their trade on The European Tour this year return to the Challenge Tour, including Edouard Dubois, Andy Sullivan, Sam Hutsby and Pelle Edberg.
European Tour winners in the field include Nick Dougherty, José-Filipe Lima and John Parry, while Scotsman Chris Doak will play after securing the best European Tour finish of his career in the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity last week, where he was tied sixth.
The home challenge is led by Roope Kakko, Mikko Korhonen and Janne Mommo, who finished tied fourth in the Credit Suisse Challenge three weeks ago.