Ten years and counting for the Kazakhstan Open
September 15. PGA European Tour
Kazakhstan Open, Zhailjau Golf Resort, Almaty, Kazakhstan 18 Sep 2014 – 21 Sep 2014.
Zhailjau Golf Club will play host to the tenth edition of the Kazakhstan Open this week with a victory for the majority of the field almost certain to assure them of European Tour action next year.
In the previous nine instalments of the event, played just outside Almaty, every player that has finished top of the pile at the end of 72 holes has ended up graduating that same season, and with a first prize of €72,000 up for grabs that could well be the case again in 2014.
Three players in the field will be looking to fast-track their ascension to The Race to Dubai with a third title of the season in the central Asian country, with Andrew Johnston, Jake Roos and most recently Benjamin Hebert all having picked up two trophies this year.
Last time out at the Open Blue Green Cotes d’Armor Bretagne a fortnight ago it was Hebert who continued a strong run of form in taking a maiden Challenge Tour title on home soil after a three shot victory in north western France.
Just four weeks prior, the 27 year old Frenchman had lifted his first piece of silverware in three seasons on the second tier. That was the start of a run of results that has seen him virtually guarantee a return to The European Tour, regardless of whether he follows in the footsteps of Challenge Tour Number One Moritz Lampert in picking up a third title this season.
Johnston and Roos are also in position to pick up a third win of 2014 after their successes earlier in the year, but there will be plenty more top talent besides set to tee it up at Zhailjau this week.
Jordi Garcia Pinto spent much of the first part of the season atop the Challenge Tour Rankings after some strong early season form and a second career win at the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open, but after a slightly leaner spell of late, the Spaniard will hope to build on his current fourth place in the season-long list.
Korea’s Byeong-hun An has finally cashed in on his immense amateur promise after a maiden professional title at the Rolex Trophy a few weeks ago, and he will be in the field alongside the resurgent Michael Lorenzo-Vera, who is reaping the rewards from his recent rededication to the game.
The inaugural staging of this event was won by Ireland’s Stephen Browne, and some ten years later his namesake – Englishman Steven Brown – will be looking to continue a good streak of form which has seen him jump into 15th spot on the Rankings thanks to four top ten finishes in his last six starts.
Former amateur star Matthew Fitzpatrick also heads to Kazakhstan as he looks to build on a solid start to his professional career, with the man from Sheffield more than capable of making a late season run at graduation to The European Tour.
Alexander Vongay will be the only local professional in the field, but amateur talents Nurlan Makulbekov and Nurtai Saldarov will also be on hand to provide some native interest.