The Challenge Tour players on the brink of promotion to The European Tour need look no further than some of last year’s graduates for some inspiration on how to deal with the step up.
With just two events remaining of the 2012 Challenge Tour season, a number of players are already assured of their European Tour card for 2013 and others are desperately trying to make it – or cling on – to a spot in the top 20 of the Rankings.
Julien Quesne has been the most successful of those who graduated from the 2011 Challenge Tour, winning the Open de Andalucia Costa del Sol in March to reach his current place of 66th in The Race to Dubai with earnings of €371,292. The Frenchman could still jump into the top 60 and therefore qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
One spot below Quesne is Matthew Baldwin, whose position is thanks chiefly to two fine Major performances. The 26 year old Englishman qualified for the US Open Championship – his maiden Major – and made the cut at Olympic Club in San Francisco, then repeated the feat at The Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes a month later, this time finishing tied 23rd.
Spaniard Jorge Campillo was ninth in the Rankings last year and made an excellent start to his rookie season on The European Tour, finishing second in the Avantha Masters in India in February and fifth in the Reale Seguros Open de España in May.
The 26 year old has €313,448 in season earnings to lie 77th, and he also has the added bonus of owning a top of the range 6-series BMW, which he won for a hole-in-one during the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi.
Portugal’s Ricardo Santos is the second Challenge Tour graduate to have won this season, claiming an emotional victory on home soil in the Madeira Islands Open to help him up to 89th currently. The 30 year old also had a top ten finish in the Avantha Masters and came tied 16th in last week’s Portugal Masters at Oceânico Victoria, the club where he honed his game.
Of the other graduates, Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, the 2011 Challenge Tour Number One, and Scotsman Craig Lee are just outside the top 115 who will retain their playing privileges for another year.
And although he made the step up to The European Tour via the Qualifying School as opposed to the Challenge Tour Rankings – he finished 24th last year – Branden Grace has shown those on the second tier just what can be achieved.
The South African was tied 30th at last season’s Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, meaning he missed out on finishing in the top 20, but a month later won a card at the Qualifing Stage Final Stage and has had a truly astonishing year, winning four times to sit third in The Race to Dubai.