The Road to Mallorca Rankings battle continues apace following the conclusion of the 57° Open de Portugal @ Morgado Golf Resort where Adrian Meronk became the first Polish winner in European Challenge Tour history.
With just five events remaining before the Rankings are decided at the Challenge Tour Grand Final, we take a look at the key storylines emerging following an exciting week of action in Portugal.
Battle for the top spot
Richard Bland is still searching for his first Challenge Tour victory of the season but continues to keep Calum Hill, and the top spot, within arm’s reach after a top 20 finish in Portugal. Despite a disappointing final round of 75, three over par, the Englishman edged closer to the summit in what has been an impressively consistent season, which includes four runner-up finishes. He now sits 4,057 points behind Hill as he eyes an immediate return to the top tier of European golf.
There was no change among the top six players on the Rankings, with Hill, Bland, Antoine Rozner, Ricardo Santos, Matthew Jordan and Cormac Sharvin all maintaining their respective positions. Meanwhile Jack Senior and Francesco Laporta both cemented their place in the all important top 15, with the former jumping up two spots into eighth place while the Italian also moved up two positions after finishing in a tie for third in Portugal.
On the way up
Meronk was among the biggest movers of the week on the Road to Mallorca, jumping up 12 spots into seventh position following his triumph at Morgado Golf Resort. The 26-year-old carded a six under par final round of 66 on Sunday to earn his maiden Challenge Tour victory as he bids to become the first Polish player in history to earn a European Tour card.
Despite falling just short on a scorching day in the Algarve, runner-up Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez also made a big stride towards earning his European Tour playing rights for next season as he returned to the top 15 on the Road to Mallorca for the second time this season. The Spaniard, who occupies 13th place, will be one to watch over the coming weeks as the season-long race continues to accelerate towards its climax.
With the battle to secure the 45 available places at the Challenge Tour Grand Final heating up, there is all to play for when the Challenge Tour returns to action next week for the Hopps Open de Provence. Among those staking a claim for their spot on the plane to Mallorca is Austrian Martin Wiegele, who has climbed 56 places into 46th position over the past two week’s courtesy of two top five finishes, including a third-place result in Portugal last week.
Meanwhile, Henric Sturehed kept his hopes alive with an impressive top five performance in the Algarve moving him up 32 places into 61st.