As the European Challenge Tour season heads into the home straight, it is all still to play for as the race for a top 15 spot on the Road to Mallorca heats up.
The peaks and troughs of a Challenge Tour campaign sees players break in and drop out of the top 15 on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, and the final five events are often pivotal to those contending for a life-changing European Tour card.
This week’s Lalla Aïcha Challenge Tour marks the beginning of the final five, followed by the Stone Irish Challenge, with the immediate goal being securing a spot in the field for the two-week Chinese Swing.
The Hainan Open and the Foshan Open are two of the most important weeks on the Road to Mallorca, with the winners of those events being almost guaranteed a top 15 berth, while making the cut gives players a huge opportunity to qualify for the Challenge Tour Grand Final, such is the size of the prize funds.
The top 45 players on the Road to Mallorca will tee it up at the Challenge Tour Grand Final in Mallorca, with the Foshan Open being the final opportunity to secure a berth.
All of the final five winners of the season last year moved on to the European Tour, while all-but-one of the previous year’s five closing winners earned their cards, with Victor Perez being the exception.
Each of the winners in the history of the Hainan Open, Foshan Open and the Challenge Tour Grand Final have secured their playing privileges on the European Tour the following year, while all but one of the Stone Irish Challenge victors have achieved the same feat.
Although the final five events are not the be-all and end-all of the season, history suggests that a strong finish to the season can prove to be the difference, with the success of those performing well in the final few events a clear barometer of what can be achieved.
No-one knows what the remaining weeks of the Challenge Tour season will bring, but one thing is for sure; it will not lack drama.