A tenuous Meat Loaf reference, Ryder Cup fever and the birthplace of cinema await you as our Press Officer takes you behind the scenes at the ALLIANZ Open de Lyon...
Challenge Tour quality on show at Dunhill Links
We have spoken a lot this week about the inspiration provided by the Challenge Tour’s alumni who shone at last week’s Ryder Cup and if the players at the ALLIANZ Open de Lyon needed any more proof as to how close they are to reaching the pinnacle of the game they needed look no further than the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland this week.
Of the top six players on the leaderboard after the opening day of the unique Pro-Am tournament over three of Scotland’s finest courses, four of them are former Challenge Tour regulars.
Leader Branden Grace, who almost carded a 59 in the first round, honed his prodigious talent on the Challenge Tour for four seasons before he hit the big time with three European Tour victories this season.
Third-placed Thornbjørn Olesen and Swedish duo Alexander Noren and Fredrik Andersson Hed – both in tied fourth - have four Challenge Tour titles between them while there are plenty more recent graduates further down the leaderboard.
Tommy Fleetwood, the Challenge Tour Number One last year, was in tied 12th place alongside Magnus A Carlsson, who has divided his season between The European Tour and Challenge Tour with great success, currently second in the Challenge Tour Rankings.
His compatriot and the Challenge Tour’s breakthrough star this season with three victories, Kristoffer Broberg, was a shot further back alongside another Challenge Tour ‘moonlighter’ this season, Oliver Wilson.
If there was ever evidence that the Challenge Tour is growing as Europe’s top developmental tour, the past two weeks have provided just that with former players Nicolas Colsaerts, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter all proving their mettle on the big stage before our alumni took over on the first day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Three out of four ain’t bad
The ALLIANZ Open de Lyon has only been in existence in its current guise for four years but has certainly established a great history in that time, producing winners of proven class and quality.
Three of the four players to have emerged victorious from Golf du Gouverneur have gone on to win on The European Tour in the past 18 months.David Horsey, winner of the inaugural tournament in 2008, has won twice on the big stage – at the 2010 BMW International Open and the 2011 Trophée Hassan II.
The 2010 champion Bernd Wiesberger has had a stunning 2012 on The European Tour, first winning the Ballantine’s Championship in April before claiming a dream home win at Austria’s Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity in July.
Last year’s winner, Frenchman Julien Quesne, earned his maiden European Tour victory at the 2012 Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol in March.
While Alexandre Kaleka, the 2009 ALLIANZ Open de Lyon champion, has not yet gone on to European Tour success, he has guaranteed a return to the highest tier of European golf after an impressive 2012 season on the Challenge Tour which has left him in fourth place in the rankings heading into this week’s event.
We certainly would not bet against the 25 year old following in the footsteps of his fellow Open de Lyon winners.
Players Ryding the wave of Cup fever
There is no doubt that the European team’s stunning Ryder Cup victory in Medinah at the weekend has had a positive effect on the mood at this week’s ALLIANZ Open de Lyon.
Everywhere you walk, there are players discussing the ups, downs, trials and tribulations of one of the most memorable weekends in the sport’s history.
Belgians are revelling in their newfound Ryder Cup hero, Nicolas Colsaerts, the English players all have Ian Poulter’s heroics, Justin Rose’s performance and Lee Westwood’s return to form in the Sunday singles on their lips while there is an immense amount of pride amongst the Spaniards at the humility and determination of José María Olazábal in winning the trophy against all odds.
Everybody is just beaming. Well, almost everybody. As you can imagine, American Scott Pinckney wasn’t so thrilled with the result, despite being a close friend of Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
Pinckney travelled to France alongside his rooming partner this week, Englishman Matt Nixon, and the Manchester native was not letting the Utah man away lightly.With an American, Brooks Koepka, winning at last week’s Challenge de Catalunya, Pinckney surely knows there is only one way to keep his mocking friends at bay - by beating the majoritively-European field this week!
A local guide to Lyon
Ahead of the fourth-last tournament on the Challenge Tour’s 2012 schedule and the final of four ALLIANZ-sponsored events, we bring you a guide to Lyon, the host city for this week’s event:
• Lyon is the largest urban area in France outside of Paris, with its overall metropolitan area estimated to have a population of 2,118,132.
• The city is known for its historical and architectural landmarks and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• The inventers of the first ever motion picture film camera, Auguste and Louis Lumière, came from Lyon and, as such, the city is known as the birthplace of cinema.
• For several centuries Lyon has been known as the French capital of gastronomy, due in part to the presence of many of France's finest chefs in the city and its surroundings. For wine enthusiasts, the Beaujolais region is to the North of the city and the Côtes du Rhône is to the South.• The city is home to Olympique Lyonnais, one of the most successful clubs in France, especially in recent times when it won seven consecutive league titles from 2002 to 2008.