The three leading players on the Road to Mallorca Rankings took to the famous Catedral-Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca ahead of the Challenge Tour Grand Final, which runs from November 7-10 at Club de Golf Alcanada in Mallorca.
Calum Hill leads all of his peers following two wins in quick succession, first at the Euram Bank Open in late July and then two starts later at the Made In Denmark Challenge – Presented by FREJA.
Sandwiched in between those victories was a tied-third place showing at the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge and since then, the Scot has added another tied-third at the Rolex Trophy and a solo third place finish at last week’s Foshan Open. He sits atop the Road to Mallorca Rankings with 143,409 points earned over 16 appearances and is eager to maintain a firm grip on his Challenge Tour Number One status.
“The Cathedral of Santa Maria is quite amazing really,” Hill said. “It’s so big it makes you wonder how it was built all those hundreds of years ago.
“I’m definitely looking forward to this week. To finish as Number One on the Challenge Tour and join that impressive list of names who have accomplished massive things in the game of golf would be an honour.”
Francesco Laporta moved to the top spot after his win at the Hainan Open, but was replaced by Hill at the summit, and so the Italian heads into the Grand Final occupying the second position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings with 138,132 points. His total comes from a remarkably consistent season, in which he has spent all 27 weeks of the Road to Mallorca inside the coveted top 15. Having secured his European Tour card for next year, he is focused on finishing the season at the top of the heap.
“It’s been a lot more relaxed since winning in Hainan,” Laporta said. “But still, I’m going to try to do everything I can to catch Calum. The win in China was important to getting me in this position and to secure my European Tour card was great, so now I have to secure the top spot.”
While Hill and Laporta have collected three wins between them this season, they are closely trailed by Richard Bland, who has yet to lift a trophy despite a remarkably strong campaign. In 18 starts, the Englishman has recorded an astounding four runner-up finishes and has a total of seven top tens for a total of 136,421 points.
Although the 46-year-old has not triumphed this season, he is the only player in the 45-man field to know what it feels like to taste victory the Grand Final. In 2001, Bland moved from 44th to ninth on the Rankings thanks to his only professional win at the Challenge Tour Grand Final, which was then played in Bordeaux, France.
The effort earned him a European Tour card, where he has enjoyed a distinguished career over the better part of two decades, but now, Bland is eager to return to the pinnacle of global golf with a second Grand Final victory and a Challenge Tour Number One title on his resume.
“Number One is always important, it’s better than Number Two, isn’t it?” said Bland. “It’s not just us three who can win the Rankings either, there are other guys who could win the Grand Final and take over the top spot, but we’re in the box seats so to speak, and we’re all going to be trying to beat each other and come out on top.”