The 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour arrives in Northampton next week for the WSL Open at Collingtree Park Golf Club.
The event is the sixth of the Tour season and with a Â£10,000 cheque available for the winner any one of the current top 10 golfers on this seasonâ€™s Order of Merit could finish the week in pole position in the race to secure a Challenge Tour card for next season.
Among those hoping to move closer to the all-important top five is Steve Surry, who was victorious at Collingtree Park in 2009, the last time the course hosted the PGA EuroPro Tour.
On that occasion he took full advantage when leader Chris Hanson imploded at the 18th. Hanson had lead by five shots overnight but struggled in his final round and held a one-shot lead as headed to the last hole. He was instantly in trouble when he hit his tee shot out of bounds and when his approach to the green with the provisional found the water, Hanson knew the game was up.
â€œI won it with a bit of fortune when Chris had a nightmare at the last hole,â€ reflects Surry. â€œThat round proved the benefits of playing until the end, because Chris had a big lead. The par fives are important at Collingtree, so my main aim will be to play those holes well next week.
â€œI canâ€™t wait to get back there. It was where I got my only win on the EuroPro Tour, so Iâ€™m really looking forward to going back there and playing the course again.
â€œIt will be a good week to be driving the ball well off the tee because if you are hitting it wayward there is a lot of water and you may need to rethink your strategy.â€
Surryâ€™s win at Collingtree Park three years ago emphasised what can come as the result of a victory on the 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour. As well as helping him to fourth on the final Order of Merit, the victory earned Surry the chance to play on the Challenge Tour even sooner than he may have anticipated.
â€œOff the back of winning at Collingtree I got a start in the Irish Challenge Tour event,â€ he explained.
â€œI finished in the top ten there, which got me an entry the next week where I got another top ten to get in the week after. It snowballed pretty quickly that year; I ended up playing eight events on the Challenge Tour that year and I qualified for the Open; that all came off the back of my win at Collingtree.â€
Naturally, Surry would be delighted to repeat his 2009 performance in next weekâ€™s WSL Open but the 30-year-old, based at Cumberwell Park Golf Club in Whiltshire, knows it will be an even tougher competition this time around.
â€œThe standard on the Tour is a lot better than it was a few years ago,â€ he admits. â€œThe cuts this season have been around level par whereas three or four years ago youâ€™d have a cut at five over. If you make the cut you know you have the chance of a good finish but you have to be playing well to make that cut.
â€œWe had bad weather for the first two events but we have a good run of courses to play on now. Galgorm Castle was the best event I have played on the EuroPro Tour, Burhill had brilliant greens and now we are going to Collingtree which is another very good course.â€
The 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour is Europeâ€™s leading development Tour and the only one in the UK to offer direct access to the Challenge Tour through final Order of Merit, with the top five each season moving up to Europeâ€™s second-tier Tour.
Kevin Whitehouse, General Manager at Collingtree Park said: â€œI would like to welcome the 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour back to Collingtree Park Golf Club.
â€œI am really pleased that we have the opportunity to showcase the golf course once again this year. The course is in excellent condition and playing really well and as usual the course will be a great test of golf for the pros. We hope it will be a brilliant tournament and enjoyable for not only the golfers but for the spectators too.â€
Spectator entry to the event is FREE throughout the week. A field of 168 golfers will begin the 54-hole strokeplay event with a cut of the leading 50 players plus ties made after the first 36 holes. Round one begins on Wednesday and live scoring will be available throughout the event at www.europrotour.com.