ABBA, The Andreas Hartø moustache saga and Jamiroquai await you as our Press Officer brings you all the action from behind the scenes at the Challenge Tour 'Major', the Kazakhstan Open...
Pelle says thank you for the music
There was a slight delay for one of the transfer busses taking players and staff to Zhailjau Golf Resort from their Rahat Palace Hotel due to a bike race taking place in Almaty on Sunday morning, but the Swedes on the bus didn’t mind one bit.
That’s because, as the bus was stationary on the road while the race flew past, one of Sweden’s most famous exports, ABBA, was blaring on the bus radio, much to their delight.
Pelle Edberg was a picture of contentment, singing along to Honey Honey aloud, before being joined in the chorus by the man to his right, Magnus A Carlsson.
What a perfectly patriotic start to the day for the Swedes!
Hartø saga to reach climax on final day in Almaty?
As mentioned below, Andreas Hartø has been sporting a moustache recently that has been getting fuller and fuller and one of our previous blog entries wondered whether there would be another chapter to this spectacular saga.
Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long after the great Dane carded an opening round of 68 at Zhailjau Golf Resort in Almaty.
He tweeted: “Shot -1 in the first round here in Kazakstan with one fairway hit. Must be the power of the "stache"! Staying on for at least one more day!”
But, alas, there was another twist in the tale as it transpired Hartø had suffered from a tweeting typo, following the previous one with: “The moustache makes me confused though. I shot -4! Silly moustache!”
It may have been a momentary lapse of concentration caused by the new addition to his top lip but it certainly did him no harm on the penultimate day of the Kazakhstan Open as three eagles in the front nine helped him to an eight under par round of 64 to put himself in the final group on Sunday.
“My new moustache is definitely helping so it’s going to stay there for a little bit longer!” he said after the round.
Is this moustache saga going to have the happiest ending of all with a win in Kazakhstan? We await the conclusion with baited breath!
Players ready to party Kazakhstan style
Any players or staff that had never been to the Kazakhstan Open are sure to be thoroughly looking forward to the tournament’s Friday night cut party, which has produced many fables down the years as the Challenge Tour family comes together to celebrate the year’s ‘Major’ in Central Asia.
The stories paint a picture of a hugely enjoyable night where this week’s visitors to Almaty can mix with the extremely friendly caddies and staff of the tournament.
This year’s party takes place at Copacabana Club in the city and it sure to prove another huge success.
Buses leave the hotel at 8pm and, for any players who decide to attend but want to be bright and fresh for the following morning’s tee time, there is a 12am bus back to the hotel while for those who are keen on making a big night of it, there is another bus at 1am.
It might not be an ideal time to catch a good night’s sleep for an early morning tee time so all the more reason to bang in the birdies on day two of the tournament and play to be out in the final group!
All roads lead to Zhailjau in Almaty
Any player who may have wanted to get a guided tour of the wonderful Almaty city will have found that they need not any more, as they have been bussed through the city on a plethora of different routes on the transfer from their hotel to the Zhailjau Golf Resort.
It seems every different coach driver in Almaty has their own idea on the best way to the golf course and as a result the players have been left dazed and confused as to the location of the hotel in relation to the course.
However, they have been enjoying the many views of the wonderful city, from historic buildings, past old fruit markets and under towering modern glass buildings in the city’s business centre.
It really is a wonderful, vibrant city and no doubt the Challenge Tour stars will leave with great memories from their bus transfers as well as their experiences on the course.
We moustache Andreas a question, or will we shave it for later?While a clean-shaven Andreas Hartø has been a mainstay on the Challenge Tour Rankings so far this season, the towering Dane has adopted a new superstition after his week in Russia last week.
Hartø grew a rather impressive moustache during the M2M Russian Challenge and was so happy with how he played while sporting the new facial hairstyle that he has decided to keep it for the foreseeable future.
The two time Challenge Tour winner, who burst on to the scene in 2010 with a debut victory at his home tournament - the ECCO Tour Championship presented by Thomas Bjorn and Mercedes Benz- posted the following alongside a photo on his Twitter feed (@AndreasHarto): “I looked a little happier on the course today, but the moustache worked! It might become my best friend!”
After the tournament he proclaimed: “Its official... The moustache is here to stay. For a while at least. Proud of my top 10 finish after being +5 thru 3 holes on Thursday!”Will he keep it after Kazakhstan or won’t he? We await the latest instalment of the Hartø moustache saga!
This Kazakhstan boogie is for realIt was a request that the Challenge Tour staff are not accustomed to when Portugal’s José-Filipe Lima entered the tournament office and asked if they knew when English pop-funk act Jamiroquai were playing.
Indeed, the band fronted by Jay Kay is due to play this weekend in the Kazakh city of Almaty, venue for this week’s tournament, and Lima and some of his friends plan to go and see them play at the Palace of the Republic.
Maybe, if those players are in contention after Saturday’s penultimate round, grooving to such songs as “Virtual Insanity”, “Cosmic Girl” and “Canned Heat” is exactly what they will need to calm the nerves.A guide to Almaty
Seeing as the Challenge Tour has pitched up in Almaty every year for the past eight years, we figured we should learn a little bit more about a city with a fascinating history. Read on to get up close and personal with the venue for this week’s Kazakhstan Open:
• Almaty was the first capital city of Kazakhstan when the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. However, it lost its capital status to Astana in 1997 with the Government citing several problems with keeping the capital in Almaty, such as the city's risk of seismic activity, insufficient room for expansion, and proximity to international borders. It still remains the commercial and cultural centre of the Central Asian nation.
• The city is located in the foothills of Trans-Ili Alatau mountain range, where the highest peak is just shy of 5,000m.• As mentioned above, the city is situated in an area that is highly seismic. In recorded history prior to the late nineteenth century three catastrophic earthquakes are known to have taken place there. Within the past 125 years three more strong destructive earthquakes occurred here, with focuses not more than 20 – 130 kilometres from the current city location.