Europe’s secondary Challenge Tour begins this week, the start of a long and difficult road that will see 15 golfers advance to the main circuit in 2019.
Among those who will tee up at the season opener in Kenya are four Australians hopeful of making it to the end, Ash Hall, Nick Cullen, Jack Munro and Ben Eccles.
Eccles is playing the event on a sponsor’s invite but the other three earned their berths thanks to finishes either on last year’s Tour or various Q-School finishes.
Nick Cullen looked a chance to secure his playing rights at the midway point of last season though eventually finished 26th on the year long Road to Oman standings.
That was enough to ensure his status again this year though he will be highly motivated to graduate after two seasons on the secondary circuit.
Ben Eccles also played a full season in 2017 but struggled with his game and finished well down the standings.
Having failed to keep his card he will now have to try to earn spots the hard way, either through qualifying or high enough finishes to ensure starts the following week.
A win, of course, would give him full access and while he didn’t play his best in 2017 he is more than capable of excelling at this level and while 2018 will likely be a challenging year he may be the better for it in the end.
Jack Munro, who has steadily improved his game over the past 12 months, has a limited exemption category courtesy of his European Tour Q-School placing though will likely get several starts in 2018.
Munro has played mostly Asian Tour and PGA Tour-China and will relish the chance to test his game against Europe’s emerging stars.
Ash Hall has been one of Australia’s most international players over the years but with no status anywhere outside Australia will take any opportunity to tee up.
Hall has previously played full time on the secondary Web.com Tour in the US and has said more than once he would be more than happy to play a full schedule in Europe.
Headlines at a glance
What's on this week / 29th May - 5th June 2018
Discover what's on in the world of golf and which Aussies are in action this week
Fowler, Lonard step up on major stage
Peter Lonard and Peter Fowler have impressed in the first international major of the 2018 season, Lonard finishing in the top-25 at the Senior PGA Cha...
Euro Challenge Tour
Papadatos on track for European card
Dimi Papadatos has maintained his place in the top-10 of the Challenge Tour’s Order of Merit with a strong finish at the Czech Challenge at the ...