Satellite stars eye Challenge Tour launchpad

1/16/2013 10:46:59 AM
Lucas Bjerregaard  (Getty Images)
Lucas Bjerregaard (Getty Images)

With the 2013 European Challenge Tour season fast approaching, europeantour.com takes a look at some of the players who have earned promotion from the satellite tours.

Nordic Golf League

Lucas Bjerregaard

If word of mouth is anything to go by, this young Dane could be one of the stars of the future and will embark on his maiden Challenge Tour campaign in 2013.

Three of Bjerregaard’s compatriots, all under the age of 24, made the step up to The European Tour last season via the Challenge Tour Rankings, but ask Andreas Hartø, JB Hansen or Morten Ørum Madsen about the bright future of Danish golf and they all refer to this gifted 21 year old.

The man from the northern Danish town of Frederikshavn had a glittering amateur career, winning two European Boys Team Championships with his home country in 2007 and 2009 before sealing a huge individual feat by winning the 2010 European Amateur Championship, following in the footsteps of the likes of Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy.

After turning professional in 2011, his transition to the paid ranks was seamless and a 2012 season in which he won the Nordic Golf League Order of Merit thanks to two wins, two runner-up finishes and 13 top tens in 18 appearances has catapulted him onto the Challenge Tour.

He has shown an ability to adapt to the big stage too, his only appearance on The European Tour last year - in the Nordea Masters - yielding a tied 45th place finish.

In 2013 Bjerregaard’s biggest challenge so far awaits, but he has shown he can progress quickly and a full season on the Challenge Tour could result in yet more Danish success.

Alps Tour

Gareth Shaw

Having enjoyed a superb amateur career which included two European Team Championship wins for Ireland in 2007 and 2008 as well as North of Ireland Championship victories in 2005 and 2007, beating Shane Lowry in the final to claim the latter, Shaw found it tougher going after joining the paid ranks.

The early days of his professional career appeared to signal a swift transition, with two top tens in his first three Challenge Tour appearances, but Shaw could not build on that positive start.

After playing 14 events on the Challenge Tour in 2009 and finishing 105th in the Rankings, he spent the next three seasons plying his trade on the Alps Tour, becoming the first Northern Irishman to win the Order of Merit in 2012.

The 27 year old declared on his website that he is now “fully ready and prepared to make the step up to the European Tour and back to where I know I am capable”, so time will tell if he can continue to rise through the ranks in 2013.

Europro Tour

Wallace Booth

While England’s Paul Maddy stormed to the top of the Europro Tour Order of Merit with a win in the final tournament of the season, one name that jumps out from the top five who earned Challenge Tour cards is Wallace Booth.

The Scotsman was highly regarded as an amateur, having been a member of the winning Scottish team at the Eisenhower Trophy in 2008, alongside Gavin Dear and Callum Macaulay.

A Walker Cup appearance followed in 2009 and only added to the belief that Booth was destined for greater things.

While the 27 year old has struggled with persistent injury problems since turning professional soon after his Walker Cup bow, he has watched with pride as his sister Carly won twice on the Ladies European Tour in 2012.

Will a rookie season on the Challenge Tour finally provide Booth with the opportunity to follow his sister into the highest echelons of the game?

EDP Tour

Marcel Haremza

At 34 years of age, Haremza is no spring chicken in golfing terms, but four wins on the way to claiming the EDP Tour Order of Merit last year proves that he is hungrier and better prepared than ever to compete for titles on the Challenge Tour this season

Despite having ambitions to play on The European Tour from a young age, the German decided to invest in a full-time education while becoming a club professional at Hohenpähl Golf Club outside his home city of Munich.
He would not be the first player to rise from teaching professional status to the big time and will no doubt see Ian Poulter as an inspiration as he attempts to continue his momentum on the Challenge Tour.

And some of the others…

Welshman Stuart Manley, an experienced campaigner who has played four full seasons on The European Tour and five on the Challenge Tour, returns thanks to a third place finish in the Europro Tour Order of Merit.

Marek Novy has become the first Czech player to gain a category for the Challenge Tour after a fifth place finish in the EPD Tour Order of Merit, while Frenchman Jerome Lando Casanova enters his rookie season on the Challenge Tour with a good finish in last year’s M2M Russian Challenge Cup under his belt, having earned a 2013 category via the Alps Tour.

Another regular on the Alps Tour last year, Jack Senior, would have gained a card via the satellite tour route but earned a better category via the 2012 Challenge Tour Rankings, having challenged for the title at last year’s Kazakhstan Open before finishing tied fourth.