François Calmels will arrive at the Rolex Trophy for the first time since 2009 hoping to follow in the footsteps of the last two winners, Kristoffer Broberg and Benjamin Hebert, and claim a third victory of the season which would seal his place on The European Tour.
The event, held at Golf Club de Genève, is one of the longest-running tournaments on the European Challenge Tour schedule and has witnessed victories worthy of such a prestigious event in the past two editions.
Last year, Kristoffer Broberg sealed his all-important third victory of the 2013 season to earn instant promotion to The European Tour after just five appearances, following closely in the spikemarks of the 2011 champion Benjamin Hebert.
The Frenchman’s victory also earned him a rapid route to The Race to Dubai, having claimed two quick-fire victories in the month preceding the limited-field event in the Swiss city of Geneva.
This year, there is only one man in with a chance of making it a hat-trick of three-time winners in succession: Hebert’s compatriot Calmels.
Calmels’ victories at the Challenge de Madrid and D+D Real Czech Challenge Open mean he is just one win away from the Promised Land, but the 31 year old insists he is focusing only on maintaining his place in the top 15 of the Challenge Tour Rankings.
“It would be great to win it,” he said. “I have played there before and not done so well, but I’m playing a lot better this year so maybe the course can suit me a little better.
“You could say it is easier to win a tournament when there are only 40 players, but it is the best 40 players of the year so it’s not easy.
“For me, the goal at the moment is just to be in the top 15. In Finland, I passed the €70,000 mark which is really good, because last year that amount of money got players into the top 15. Maybe it will be different this year with new tournaments like Oman and China, but I know I am doing well with that amount of money.
“Now my goal is to reach €80,000 and then €90,000, and so on. Winning two tournaments was obviously a huge help money-wise, but I have also had some good tournaments where I didn’t win, with three top tens – so they were important.”
It has been a real breakthrough season for the man who plays out of Bussy St Georges, the same club as his friend Grégory Havret.
Having all but guaranteed his promotion to The European Tour, Calmels can afford to relax and enjoy the glitz and glamour which accompanies the Pro-Am format of the Rolex Trophy.
“I have played the Rolex Trophy twice, so I’m looking forward to going back,” he said. “It’s a nice place and a nice week.
“It makes a change from a normal tournament with only 40 players and playing with amateurs, there’s good food too and you have to wear a jacket and tie at night so that makes a nice change.
“It’s an important tournament for the Challenge Tour but it’s also a bit like a holiday, and if you do well it can be like a Major victory. I’m very pleased to be there this year.”
Calmels is one of the 37 players in attendance from the top 40 in the Challenge Tour Rankings. Brooks Koepka, the current Number One, is among those absent as he is now plying his trade on The European Tour following three victories this season, while Seve Benson, Mark Tullo and Morten Ørum Madsen have also opted to play the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
The field includes former European Tour winners Rhys Davies and José-Filipe Lima, while the youngest winner of US Amateur Championship, Byeong-hun An, is one of the many rising stars in attendance.