Pedro Oriol tees it up on home soil for the first time since becoming a European Challenge Tour winner as he hopes Seve Ballesteros can once again inspire him to a good performance at the Challenge de España.
Last month, the Spaniard triumphed at the prestigious Rolex Trophy just days after visiting the legendary Ballesteros’ house, wearing a souvenir visor emblazoned with Seve’s iconic silhouette all week on his way to victory.
The visor is back at Izki Golf this week, particularly fitting since Ballesteros designed the stunning course in the Basque country, and Oriol – currently sixth on the Road to Oman with just five tournaments to go – is hopeful of securing his European Tour future this week.
“Obviously it’s very special to play at a course that was designed by Severiano,” said the 31 year old. “I will keep playing with his visor and maybe he can give me some extra strength this week, as he did in Geneva.
“I know this course a bit. It’s been a while since I played, I think the last time was in a Spanish Championship in maybe 2009 or 2010, a few years ago.
“For me it is easier to play at home – obviously you have to do the same as you do every week, but I don’t have to take flights, it’s my country and I’m very calm playing in Spain so I wish we had more European Tour and Challenge Tour events here.
“It is always very special to play in my home country. Hopefully I can do a nice job this week and make sure of my European Tour card for next year.
“I definitely still have some work to do. We don’t know what the exact number will be but that’s not important – I just need to play my best in the tournaments that are remaining.
“I want to finish as high as possible because the higher in the Rankings you finish, the more tournaments you get to play next year, the Rolex Series for example.
“Hopefully I can get the job done this week and allow myself to play with a bit less pressure, a bit more calm, for the rest of the tournaments in this season.
“It was a pity I couldn’t play good golf last week in Kazakhstan because it’s a big tournament. But there are still a lot of points to play for, big tournaments coming up now, so I can still win the Rankings, of course, and that would be a great thing.
“I had three days off after missing the cut in Kazakhstan so I’m feeling fresher than some others I expect. Obviously last week was disappointing but I’m going to take that as a positive because I’m refreshed – it’s a silver lining for sure.”
Despite a lengthy journey back from Almaty, a strong field has assembled in northern Spain, headlined by Kazakhstan Open winner and new leader of the Road to Oman Rankings Tapio Pulkkanen.
Adrien Saddier will defend the title he won last year at Tecina Golf while 13 tournament winners in 2017 – including Oriol and Pulkkanen – will look to add to their season’s tallies with victory in Spain.
Izki Golf returns as a Challenge Tour host following a 14 year absence – it last hosted the Challenge de España in 2003 and this is the third time it has staged the tournament.