Castleknock’s David Carey heads a two-man Irish challenge ahead of Wednesday’s starting Grand Final of the Alps Tour 2019, October 23-26.
This year’s staging has a new twist as it will be played over two adjacent golf courses, those of Terre dei Consoli Golf Club and the Golf Nazionale in the province of Lazio some 60 kilometres north of Rome.
The Golf Nazionale sees the Alps Tour players return for the second time this season after the Nazionale Open in July, whilst it is a first time for Terre dei Consoli to host an Alps Tour event.
The top-50 players on the Order of Merit after the Cervino Open in September qualified to take part in the Grand Final, provided that they had also competed in at least 6 other Alps Tour events in 3 different countries.
That saw Carey, a winner last time out in Cervino where he shot an outrageous 57 en route to victory, qualify in 12th place on the Order of Merit table with Naas pro, Jonathan Yates also advancing to the Grand Final in 17th position.
The format for the final is 72-hole stroke play over four days with no cut. In the event of a tie for first place after the 72 holes, the winner will be decided in a hole-by-hole play-off. However, even more interestingly, the points distribution in the Grand Final can have a major impact on the OOM ranking.
Whilst the prize money remains constant, the points earned are practically doubled compared to the other competitions. In total there are 70,000 points to be distributed. The winner receives 11,000 points and the runner-up 7,000 points.
With the top-5 on the table earning a full Challenge Tour category for the 2020 season, both Carey and Yates know that a big week is required to bridge the gap on those occupying the prized positions.
As Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez from Spain, currently fourth, will not be playing the final as he is currently ranked 12th on the Challenge Tour, this moves Timon Baltl from Austria up into fourth position and Xavier Poncelet from France into fifth.
Given that in the OOM, the number 5 position is currently held by Poncelet, 16,898 points is Carey’s (13,025) and Yates’ (11,821) current target to ensure they give themselves a chance of Challenge Tour graduation.
The four rounds will be played out alternately over the two courses, each of which poses its own challenges. The Robert Trent Jones Jr designed Terre dei Consoli Golf Club course opened its doors in 2011.
A technically challenging course particularly on the back nine, water and bunkers come into play on several holes and depending on the weather conditions, northerly wind gusts can complicate matters further. The Jim Fazio designed Golf Nazionale course has tree-lined fairways, strategically placed bunkers, water and dense rough to contend with. We can look forward to four days of intense competition with clement meteorological conditions forecast despite the possibility of a shower or two.