Seven Irish players will take their chance at Thursday’s starting Vierumäki Finnish Challenge as Europe’s secondary tour enters a nine-week stretch of back-to-back events on the Road to Mallorca International Schedule.
Ireland’s top ranked player on the Order of Merit, Michael Hoey (49th) isn’t amongst the seven taking to Vierumäki Resort from August 5-8 with Paul McBride in 129th position the highest ranked Irish player on the table taking to the tee. The Island professional has made just one cut from his last five events in a top-15 finish in France back in June and will be eager to kick-start his season with time running out to make his mark on the Road to Mallorca standings.
Tramore’s Robin Dawson has yet to make a cut this year, or break 70, so he’ll be desperate for a lift, as will Alps Tour regular Jonathan Yates who has missed three cuts from three starts on the Challenge Tour this year. Another Alps regular, David Carey will hope to shine on just his second Challenge Tour start this season while Conor O’Rourke will target a good week after narrowly missing out on the halfway cut at last week’s World Invitational.
Mallow’s James Sugrue carded consecutive rounds of 72 to also miss the halfway mark at Galgorm Castle as he looks to bounce back in what’s been a decent rookie season where he enjoyed top-25 finishes at the Irish Challenge and the Dormy Open back in May. Kinsale’s John Murphy completes the Irish line-up as he continues to cut his teeth having only turned to the paid ranks in June.
Meanwhile, Todd Clements is feeling revitalised ahead of this week’s tournament after the 24-year-old opted to take a four-week break from the European Challenge Tour and has therefore not played since the Kaskáda Golf Challenge at the start of July where he missed his sixth cut of the season.
Clements admitted that a break was needed due to the unremitting nature of the Tour and believes it has given him time to reset before an important run of events.
“The Challenge Tour is a grind,” he said. “It’s relentless week-in-week-out and you’re just having a go at finishing at the top because it’s top 20 or nothing really. It’s a brutal Tour but really enjoyable in other ways.
“I took a few weeks off, so it has been nice to take a bit of a break from the game and just enjoy being at home for a little while which has been quite refreshing. I’m buzzing to get back out, see a few of my friends and hopefully play some good golf.”
The Englishman is inspired by fellow countrymen on the European Tour, including close friend Richard Mansell who finished fourth on the Road to Mallorca Rankings last season and is hoping that a strong performance in Finland can ignite an upturn in his form.
“Seeing the English boys do well gives you so much belief,” he said. “Obviously Rich being a good friend of mine and seeing what he’s done in such a short period of time gives me great inspiration and allows me to believe that if I’m on my game and get things together I can really press on.
“I’ve got the main goal of wanting to finish in the top 20 and gain my European Tour card, but I set myself intermediate goals of how I need to progress and what I need to work on in my game. I just need to take it week by week and keep making small adjustments to improve. I’ve had some really good spells where I’ve played some great golf but then some poor spells, so I just need to find that consistency and eliminate those bad spells.”
Clements believes accuracy off the tee will be crucial this week and is looking to take advantage of the soft greens at Vierumäki Resort.
“Strategically you have to be good off the tee. The greens aren’t the biggest, so you have to be quite accurate with your second shots and controlling your distances is very important with the greens being quite receptive.”
The action in Finland gets under way at 7:30am local time, with Clements teeing it up alongside Germany’s Dominic Foos and Frenchman Sebastien Gandon at 1:00pm.
- Full scoring HERE