We have reached the final stage of the 2023 Challenge Tour, the thirtieth on the calendar this season and the one that will decide who will take out the card for next year's DP World Tour. Field of 45 players and only the top 20 of the Challenge ranking will acquire the right to play on the upper level.
Four Italians on the pitch and all in the top fifteen positions in the Entry List.
Challenge Tour Grand Final suspended
This week's venue is the Club de Golf Alcanada in Mallorca (Spain) for the Rolex Challenge Tour Gran Final.
The undisputed protagonist of this first day was the wind, with very powerful gusts that gradually increased throughout the morning, eventually leading to a suspension of play around lunchtime and therefore not all golfers finished the first eighteen holes.
At the time it was decided to return to the clubhouse, the leading players were the Englishman Marco Penge with -3, who completed his first round with 6 birdies (4 consecutive), 1 bogey and 1 double bogey bogey. The Englishman jumped from 23rd place to first place in the Challenge ranking.
Second place at -2 for Follett-Smith and Vaillant, both stopped by the wind after sixteen holes played, while in fourth place and last player under par is the Irishman Conor Purcell, also with 8 and 9 still to play (they would the last ones for him, since he started from ten).
In fifth position at par we find a quintet of players with two Italians: Francesco Laporta and Lorenzo Scalise, who are in the company of the South African Senekal, the German Rottluff and the Swede Svensson. Francesco Laporta arrived at the sixteenth hole of his first round finding two birdies (7 and 15) and two bogeys (8 and 12).
The Apulian is the Italian furthest back in the Challenge rankings, and with this result he would virtually rise from fifteenth to fourteenth position, putting his full-time return to the top circuit even more on ice after just one year of lower ranking.
Scalise, however, was stopped after 13 holes and his card included two birdies (4 and 10) and two bogeys (5 and 11). A group of 8 players complete the top-10 in tenth position at +1: Robinson Thompson, Suri, Girrbach, Lewis and Couvara.
As for the other two Italians on the pitch, they are both at the back. Matteo Manassero (31st), who returned to play a season at the highest level ten years after his splendid triumph at Wentworth in the BMW PGA Championship, stumbled on fourteen truly difficult holes.
The score of the Veronese speaks of a total +4 with just one birdie, 3 bogeys and a double bogey on the 13th. Things went even worse for Andrea Pavan, who after starting very strong with two birdies on the 3rd and 6th went into great difficulty in the wind especially with the drive, and three bogeys and two double bogeys came.
Romano relegated to 35th position with his +5. For both of them, however, the charter for the DP World Tour is now just a mere formality. Tomorrow the players will complete the first round starting from 8.00, while the second eighteen holes will begin no earlier than 10.00.