Grand Final Roll of Honour

9/4/2013 4:13:00 PM
Henrik Stenson after Challenge Tour Rankings glory in the year 2000 ()
Henrik Stenson after Challenge Tour Rankings glory in the year 2000 ()
Henrik Stenson, the hottest player in the world right now, is one of the many superstars to have appeared in the Challenge Tour Grand Final, which today chartered fresh ground with the announcement of a new venue in Dubai. Here are some of the glittering alumni…

Henrik Stenson

The current Race to Dubai leader, who is also dominating proceedings at the other side of the Atlantic and leading the FedEx Cup Rankings after his win on Sunday night, is one of the Challenge Tour’s most famous alumni.

The Swede rose through the ranks in 2000 thanks to a stunning season in which he claimed his third win of the year at the Grand Final in Cuba,  and in the process sealed the title as Challenge Tour Number One.

Since then he has gone on to win seven European Tour titles and represent Europe twice in The Ryder Cup, most notably in 2006 at The K Club in Ireland when he holed the winning putt.

His game has gone from strength to strength this season, with his win on the US PGA Tour on Monday the culmination of a superb run of form which began with a runner-up finish in The Open Championship at Muirfield, followed by a share for a second at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

The following week he secured another massive result at a Major when he came third in the US PGA Championship, before a rare week away from the top of the leaderboard was followed by his first win of the season at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

A proud ambassador of the Challenge Tour, Stenson won the Challenge Tour Rankings in a year in which a future Major Champion also graduated – Trevor Immelman – and judging by the Swede's recent form, he may not be far away himself from one of golf’s “Big Four”.

Thomas Björn

The Dane is one of the many stars to have experienced glory at the Grand Final without winning the tournament itself, as he emerged top of the Rankings after the season finale in 1995.

Four wins on the tour moved him to the top of the pile and he was awarded the trophy as Challenge Tour Number One in Quito de Peru, Portugal.

Björn has since gone on to become the greatest player Denmark has ever produced in a career which has spanned three decades and is still going as strong as ever at 42 years of age.

He has notched up 13 victories on The European Tour and twice represented the European team in The Ryder cup, winning both times in 1997 and 2002.

He is another huge supporter of the Challenge Tour, both in his role as The European Tour’s Tournament Committee Chairman and as a supporter in the past of various tournaments.

Martin Kaymer

One of the Challenge Tour’s biggest former stars, especially since his 2010 victory at the US PGA Championship, Kaymer’s ascent through our ranks was as impressive as it was swift.

The Dusseldorf man’s record in the Challenge Tour in 2006 read: eight appearances, two victories, four further top fives and another two top 15 finishes. Kaymer only finished in 13th position in the Grand Final that year but, nevertheless, it was enough to secure his European Tour card, which he has since held, before subsequently going on to become one of the most formidable talents in European golf.

That was underlined when the 28 year old showed nerves of steel to hole the putt which retained The Ryder Cup for Europe during the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ last year.

While Kaymer’s stint on the Challenge Tour was brief, two months no less, he still speaks regularly about the positive effect that the 2006 season had on his career as a whole.

Ian Poulter

In the same year that his close friend and future Ryder Cup partner Justin Rose was battling it out on the Challenge Tour, Ian Poulter claimed one title during the 1999 season enroute to the Grand Final in Cuba.

While the confident Englishman could not secure a European Tour card across the Atlantic, he still pinpoints the Challenge Tour as one of the most important junctures of his career.

Since then he has seen some incredible highs, most notably in the biggest team event in golf, leading to him commonly being referred to as ‘Mr Ryder Cup’.

A total of 12 European tour titles on top of that have therefore made him one of the most successful alumni in Challenge Tour history.

With Dubai marking a new step in the Challenge Tour’s journey across the world, there are sure to many future world-beaters passing through the gates of Al Badia Golf Club over the next three years.