Frilford Heath Golf Club will host its first full-season 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour event this week as the Buildbase Open takes place at the Oxfordshire venue.
The course has previously hosted the final stage of qualifying school for the Tour but this weekâ€™s event represents its debut on the full schedule. Tyrrell Hatton was victorious at Q School in April and is currently eighth on the Order of Merit and will be keen to move into the top five with a repeat performance in the Buildbase Open.
The top five finishers on the seasonâ€™s Order of Merit will be rewarded with a card on next summerâ€™s Challenge Tour and with leader Elliot Saltman in action at the Open Championship this week, the Buildbase Open presents an opportunity for some of the other contenders to take poll position.
With Saltmanâ€™s exception the remaining 19 top-20 players on the Order of Merit will be in action at Frilford Heath and 15 of them could leapfrog the Scotsman to first place if they claim the Â£10,000 winnerâ€™s cheque. It makes this a crucial event with just five tournaments following the Buildbase Open before the Tour Championship. However, Frilfordâ€™s Head Professional Derek Craik Jnr warns it wonâ€™t be an easy ride for the Tour pros.
â€œThe course is playing long at the moment due to the rain,â€ he said. â€œBut the general condition of the golf course has been very good over the last 18 months, the best it has been for years.
â€œIt is tough out there at the moment because there is not a lot of run on the ball. If you miss a fairway it is pretty penal. Normally at this time of the year it is pretty dry and you get quite a lot of run on the ball but it is totally different at the moment.â€
Frilford Heath executive director Alistair Booth said: â€œItâ€™s the first time that we have secured an event of this standing and thatâ€™s a huge achievement. Weâ€™ve been investing heavily in recent years to improve our facilities and this makes it all worthwhile.
â€œWeâ€™re looking forward to the excitement that the Buildbase Open will generate among the local golfing fraternity and hope that as many enthusiasts will take the opportunity to explore the 500-acres here and see some wonderful golf.
â€œThe grounds staff have been working hard to get the course in the very best condition so, all-in-all, itâ€™s an event not to be missed.â€
Danny Nickless, Operations Manager of the 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour, said: â€œFrilford Heath has provided an excellent venue for our Qualifying School in recent years and we are delighted to be staging the Buildbase Open there this week.
â€œThere are some outstanding young professionals on the Tour this season and I expect we will see three days of top-class golf.â€
The Buildbase Open will be played on the Red Course and spectators visiting Frilford Heath can benefit from free entry throughout and will be able to use the clubhouse and its acclaimed restaurant during the three-day event.
Any spectator who visits during the tournament can ask at the club office for a discount voucher which can be redeemed when buying a green fee ticket to play any of the courses at Frilford Heath between 1 August and 31 December 2012.