This week’s Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos is dual-ranked with the European Tour and we have picked out three European Challenge Tour players who could challenge for victory this week.
The obvious one. One Official World Golf Ranking event, one victory. The American was a last minute entry into the Northern Ireland Open supported by The R&A earlier this month and he took full advantage of the opportunity.
Koivisto, a former schoolteacher, was two under par at the halfway stage following a one over par 71 on the second day at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, but raced into the lead on day three. The 27-year-old posted a bogey-free eight under par 62 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round.
The American calmly got the job done on the final day, carding four birdies and a single bogey as he secured a two-shot victory and a memorable triumph in Ballymena.
Koivisto has a 100 per cent success rate in his Challenge Tour career, so keep an eye out for him this week.
A proven winner on the Challenge Tour, Germany’s Alex Knappe has showcased a welcome return to form of late. Knappe had a difficult first half of 2019 but missed only one cut from September onwards as he narrowly missed out on a place in the season-ending Challenge Tour Grand Final.
The 31-year-old missed two cuts in South Africa at the start of the year but leapt into the Road to Mallorca top ten with a tie for third place at the Euram Bank Open in July. Knappe made the trip to Northern Ireland a fortnight ago and picked up a top 20 finish in Ballymena, continuing his strong form.
With two wins on the Challenge Tour – at the Swiss Challenge and the Hainan Open in 2016 – Knappe has won before and has the know-how to do it again.
Stuart Manley is back on the Challenge Tour this year after spending 2019 on the European Tour and is trending in the right direction after his best finish of the season so far in Northern Ireland.
Manley, from Wales, finished tied for 23rd place in Ballymena and will be looking to build on that in Portugal this week.
In his last season on the Challenge Tour, in 2018, the 41-year-old finished ninth on the Rankings following a win at the Hauts de France Pas de Calais Golf Open, two seconds places, a third place and three further top tens.