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Three to watch: Hainan Open

Three to watch: Hainan Open

With the Hainan Open set to get under way, we have picked out three players who could be ones to watch in the fight for glory.

Francesco Laporta

Francesco Laporta at the Turkish Airlines Challenge

The Italian has enjoyed his most successful season to date on the European Challenge Tour, with five top tens to his name in 2019. He came close to winning in the first event on the Road to Mallorca as he lost in a play-off to Connor Syme at the Turkish Airlines Challenge and recently attained back-to-back tied third place finishes at the 57° Open de Portugal @ Morgado Golf Resort and the Hopps Open de Provence.

Those Challenge Tour top tens have been complemented by a tied seventh place finish at last week's Italian Open, a Rolex Series event, where Laporta ended the week as the low-Italian.

Currently sitting inside the top 15 on the Road to Mallorca, Laporta has one hand on a European Tour card but needs that final boost to secure his playing privileges for next year. This week could be pivotal.

Nicolai von Dellingshausen

Nicolai Von Dellingshausen

The 26-year-old should have amassed enough Rankings points to ensure he will tee it up in the Challenge Tour Grand Final, but he could cement his spot with a good week in Hainan, at a course he knows well.

Von Dellingshausen travelled to China in 2018 without a spot in the field but was handed a playing opportunity at the last minute as an on-site reserve. He made the most of that 11th hour inclusion, finishing the week in a tie for eighth place thanks to a closing five under par round of 67, a result which earned him a spot in the Foshan Open the following week.

Two solid weeks, although not enough to secure a place in the Grand Final, cemented his place in the top 70 in the Rankings and ensured he would enjoy a full Challenge Tour season in 2019. He will be one to watch this week.

Wil Besseling

Wil Besseling

He was the first man to miss out on the Challenge Tour Grand Final last year, but he will not make the same mistake this time around. A closing 73 at the Foshan Open meant he finished in a tie for 42nd and ended the year ranked 46th in the Challenge Tour Rankings, missing out on the season finale by one spot.

This time around, he is 38th in the Rankings and a solid – even if unspectacular – two weeks will ensure he plays once more in Europe this season. However, he will be looking for better than that. The Dutchman has missed only two cuts this year and recently played on the European Tour, with a tie for seventh place at this home event – KLM Open – earning him a place at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship the week after.

He returned to Challenge Tour duty for the Lalla Aïcha Challenge Tour and finished in a tie for 16th place and will this week be aiming for a first victory in 11 years – his last, and only, Challenge Tour victory was the ll Club Colombia Masters in 2008.

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