Ben Eccles begins the long road to trying to qualify for the European Tour this week when he plays his first Challenge Tour event as a full member in Turkey.

Eccles is one of two Australians in this week’s Turkish Airlines Challenge, Ryan McCarthy also in the field at the Gloria GC in Belek.

Eccles played sporadically in Europe last year relying on invites for tournament starts but his play at the end of year Qualifying School was enough to earn him full status on the secondary Challenge Tour.

With the ability to map out a schedule in advance, a luxury he didn’t have in 2016, the 2015 NSW Open winner is in good position to challenge for a top 15 finish on the end of year Order of Merit and graduate to the main European Tour.

The 22-year-old has already tasted some success in 2017 with a T9 finish at the Tshwane Open in March and will be looking to build consistency as the year progresses.

McCarthy, too, has access to a full schedule on the Challenge Tour and played the first event of the season in Kenya recently though missed the cut.

Like Eccles he finished high enough at the Q School to ensure full Challenge Tour status for 2017 and will also be trying to parlay the opportunity into a European Tour card.