Ones to watch at the Kazakhstan Open

Sept 16. PGA European Tour

Ones to watch at the Kazakhstan OpenAhead of the tenth anniversary edition of the Kazakhstan Open, thought long and hard to compile a list of players that any Challenge Tour fan would be wise to keep an eye on this week at Zhailjau Golf Resort…

Third time’s the charm

Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston is one of three players set to tee it up this week with two titles to their name, with the Englishman having already tasted success at both the Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts, as well as at Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge this season. Since the latter triumph the man positioned second on the Challenge Tour Rankings has played sparingly, but a share of third and 17th at the Azerbaijan Golf Challenge Open and the Rolex Trophy respectively, are proof that he is still a man in form and very capable of picking up a third win this week.

Jake Roos is also in the hunt for a trio of titles in 2014 having won the first event of the season in Kenya, and has since followed that up with a win at the Aegean Airlines Challenge Tour by Hartl Resort. Both he and Johnston are joined by Benjamin Hebert, the most recent to win for a second time this year, and if he were to follow his triumphs in Norway and on home soil with another title, it would be the second time in his career that the Frenchman has earned automatic graduation, after three quick fire titles in 2011.

Fresh blood

There are plenty of names on the Challenge Tour this season who have come close to success, but not quite made it over the line, and one of those is England’s Dave Coupland. The Lincolnshire native earned a debut season on the second tier in 2014 thanks to a top five on the EuroPro Order of Merit, and has since handled himself with aplomb in posting a runner-up finish at the Turkish Airlines Challenge, before finishing in a share of third at the Belgian Challenge Open. That has him at 22nd on the Rankings, and with plenty of money on the line between now and the end of the season, he is one to watch this week and beyond.

Horses for courses

There are few people in the field this week with more experience in Kazakhstan than Gary Lockerbie, as not only has the Englishman played in this event four times, he has had his fair share of success too. He won at the other venue to host this event – Nurtau Golf Club – in 2008, which remains his only win on the Challenge Tour, as well as also finishing in third on the same course two years prior. Zhailjau has been a happy hunting ground too though, with the man currently ranked 100th on the season long list registering a seventh place finish in 2012, the last time it played host to the Kazakhstan Open.

Four years ago Alvaro Velasco won his second Challenge Tour title of the season at Zhailjau, a victory that went a long way to securing the Spaniard the number one spot in the Rankings come the season’s end. That year he shot an impressive 21 under par to win by a commanding five strokes, and when you accompany that with the Barcelona native’s recent tie for ninth at the Open Blue Green Cotes d’Armor Bretagne, there is every chance he could go well this week in Almaty.