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Lowdown: Held in the same week as the US Open Championship. The Saint-Omer Open presented by Neuflize OBC provides a great chance for a lesser light to shine on the European Tour. It’s the 10th time the tournament has been run and a host of players will be hoping it’s a happy anniversary as they look to secure, or regain, playing privileges on the main circuit. It’s a dual ranking event with prize money counting towards both the European Tour and Challenge Tour money lists. As such the event sees an interesting mix of entrants from both circuits. Experienced European Tour veterans like Peter Baker, Phillip Price and Jean Van de Velde will tee it up alongside successful Challenge Tour players including all eight of the men who have won Challenge Tour events this season: Gary Boyd, Francois Calmels, Christoph Günther, Lee S James, Edoardo Molinari, Alan Wagner and Robert Coles. Coles is on great form in 2009 and is looking to win his third Challenge Tour event in just seven starts. The 36-year-old is well on his way to securing his European Tour card for 2010. “I’ve got a lot more consistent and I’m mentally tougher now than I was.” The home nation will be well represented in the tournament – Van de Velde will be backed up by former French Open winner Jean-Francois Remesy as well as Sebastian Delagrange and Francois Calmels who recently won the Telenet Trophy.
Venue: Aa Saint Omer GC, Lumbres, France Course stats: par 71, 6,845 yards Purse: €600,000, Winner: €100,000 Defending Champion: David Dixon (-5)
Player Watch: Gary Lockerbie – The Englishman finished in a tie for third at the Celtic Manor Wales Trophy. He’ll be looking to take that form into this event and will be amongst the favourites. Robert Coles – Twice a winner on the Challenge Tour, the 36-year-old currently leads the money list and is fresh off the back of a victory in the Challenge of Ireland. Edoardo Molinari – The Italian is second on the Challenge Tour rankings with three top-10 finishes in six starts. He should contend again this week.
Key hole: 17th. At 191 yards it requires a precise iron shot particularly when the pin is at the back of the green. This hole will need to be negotiated with a steady nerve by the leaders on Sunday afternoon.
Skills required: Grit. With the entire field desperate for victory to secure playing rights on the European Tour for 2010, competition in this event is intense. Maximum concentration and determination will be required for success.
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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