26th February 2014 | Alps Tour Golf
Andrew Cooley keeps the trophy
England’s Andrew Cooley did an impressive final round at Red Sea Little Venice Open to manage to keep his trophy as defending champion. He equalized course record 64 for -15 total. France’s Clément Berardo and Thomas Elissalde finished respectively second and third.
Ain Sokhna is tough for rookies. Last year, Wales’ Rhys Enoch was leading and had a very disappointing last round. This week, Thomas Elissalde and Borja Virto, both playing their first season as pro teed off in the last group but things did not get well for them.
Meanwhile, Andrew Cooley signed for amazing front nine 30, -6. He was only one shot back of the lead at this moment. But the English birdie machine kept on grabbing some precious strokes. He holed birdies on 11th, 12th and 16th. His playing partner, Italy’s Giorgio De Filippi seemed to be very happy his fellow. He even said at the end of the round that the Englishman could have signed for 59 easily.
He eventually scored 64 missing the birdie on last green by a few centimetres.
« When I played first nine in -6 I thought I just keep going because the guy was 14 under I expected him to go even lower on the back nine. I just take one shot at a time. I had good memories and for example on 16th I was in very similar spot to where I was last year and I holed it. But it is a dream, really. »
France’s Clément Berardo shot 69 for -12 total despite struggling with reading the greens. He recorded his second podium in two weeks.
« Since the beginning of the week I struggled to read the greens. But all in all, two really good weeks. We have worked very efficiently with my coach Alain Alberti this winter and I improved my level of game. »
After the winter series, England’s Steven Brown leads the Alps Tour ranking, compatriot Andrew Cooley and France’s Berardo ties second place.
From Ain Sokhna
25th February 2014 | Alps Tour Golf
Elissalde aims maiden win in Egypt
France’s Thomas Elissalde continues to enjoy his debut on Alps Tour. Young player from Biarritz shot 67 for -12 total. Spain’s Borja Virto is two shots back and France’s Clément Berardo is on his toes to complete the podium.
A sunny windy day for second round of Red Sea Little Venice Open. Elissalde, 20 year old rookie, confirmed good form and will play last round for maiden win as pro.
« My wedging was way better than yesterday so I was closer to the pins. I putted well but not as well as yesterday. I managed to handle the wind, it did not disturb me. I hit a lot of fairways, I only missed two of them. »
« Today I had four chips to do and I missed three including one of the 8th, my only bogey. »
« Last time I was leading teeing off the last round was during Frayssineau-Mouchy – important amateur event in France – last year and it was great. »
Another rookie from Spain is aiming to put his hands on the trophy. Borja Virto, 23 year old, signed for solid 66, score of the day. Virto was in Spanish national team until last year after three years spent in the USA in university.
« I did not play well in the USA, I could not adapt to life there very well. I prefer to stay in Europe. I am happy, I played well today, everything went together. My goal for this season is to play and see what happens. »
France’s Clément Berardo, 27 year old, and second year as pro, managed to stay in contention despite struggling with his game.
« It was early this morning, wasn’t it? I woke up at 5:30 and honestly, on first tee, it was tough to focus. My game was not as sharp as yesterday. My driving was so and so as my long game. So scoring 3 under was a good result reference to the level of my game. »
From Ain Sokhna
24th February 2014 | Alps Tour Golf
Elissalde back in form in Egypt
France’s 21 year old Thomas Elissalde signed for 7 under par 65 to lead by one stroke over two compatriots Julien Foret and Clément Berardo and Spain’s Alfonso Gutierrez.
Elissalde just turned pro at the end of last season. He missed the cut last week but managed to improve his level of game to tame the course this week. He signed for flawless card with five birdies and one eagle.
« I did not drop any shot. I played the pars 5 cleverly, I had two birdies and one eagle. I putted really well because each time I was in danger, far from the pin, I ended with a gimme. I holed some great ones as well, so all in all, a very nice day. »
« In comparison to last week, I stroke the ball about the same but beside my driving, I played poorly last week. My short game really bad. Today my driving was not so efficient but my short game was really sharp. It has made a big difference. The only thing not really at the top level was my wedging. »
Former European Tour player, Julien Foret had a really good round. The New Caledonia born decided not to go back home this winter but spent time in Morocco in Samanah golf club to practice.
« This morning, there was no wind when I started. So I could play my first nine, from 10 to 18, in good conditions. There are plenty of birdies opportunities on these holes. I holed some good putts and hit the green close to flags. And on the back nine, even with the wind starting to blow I manage to earn a few more strokes. »
Eventually, in the afternoon draw, France’s Clément Berardo confirmed his good form of last week. He finished on the podium of the Red Sea El Ein Bay Open and recorded a brilliant 66 but in a very colorful way. He started hitting the green on first hole and holed 6 meters for eagle and was 4 under after four holes but his 5th hole was a long, long journey to the hole. He drove in the waste area, find water hazard with second shot, finally reach the green quite nicely as he ended no more than one meter to the cup but missed it and dropped two shots.
Being asked leaving the last green how much he played, Berardo smiled and confessed that he didn’t know.
« I was annoyed with my double bogey on the 14th (his fifth hole) so I stopped counting. But I think I shot 6 under. I am really happy to get benefits from all the work done. »
The first Egyptian player shot 73, one over par to share 59th position.
From Ain Sokhna
23rd February 2014 | Alps Tour Golf
Practice day at Ain Sokhna
Players enjoyed fair temperatures in Ain Sokhna to play last practice round before the Red Sea Little Venice Open resumes tomorrow.
It has been a week now that Alps Tour settled on the Red Sea west banks. The Jaz Little Venice resort and Sokhna golf club are, in everybody words, a great place to play, practice and start the season.
2013 graduate England’s Steven Brown won the first event in Egypt last week succeeding to compatriot Andrew Cooley defending champion.
Cooley is also the winner of maiden edition of Red Sea Little Venice Open as he defeated his compatriots Tom Shadbolt and Jason Palmer after first extra hole. These latters are back this year to take their revenge.
There are four Egyptian players in the field, two amateurs and two pros. They will do their best to reach the international golf standard to make the cut and promote their sport in their country.
20th February 2014 | Alps Tour Golf
Brown captures third Alps Tour crown in Egypt
England’s Steven Brown overtook the overnight leaders, Virto and Etchart, to win the Red Sea El Ain Bay Open by one shot thanks to solid flawless 66 6-under-par last round for -10 total.
The 26 year old player whose home club is Wentworth, is one of the 2013 Alps Tour graduates. He had two victories last year and one top 3 to finish at third place behind compatriot Jason Palmer and France’s Edouard Espana.
« I was relaxed playing here at the beginning of the week as I will play Challenge Tour this season. But today, when I saw I was only 3 behind, I started to feel a little pressure because I wanted to catch them up. Last time I won when I was not leading (France 2013) I finished my round more than 2 hours before the leaders. This time I was in the fourth group.
I did not want to know what was the score. On the last green, I could not avoid to see it but I am working with a psychologist since a few weeks and we decided I should stay focus to the things I can influence, my routine for example. I played really solid today and I holed good putts. A win is always nice even if Alps Tour is not my circuit anymore. It is a nice way to start a season. »
Brown was very efficient from tee to green today and his putter did a wonderful to reduce, step by step, the distance to the top of the leaderboard. Borja Virto and him were neck and neck almost all round as Virto dropped two shots on the fourth. Brown holed a precious last birdie on the 17th after brilliant bunker shot. A few minutes later, Virto dropped a shot on the 16th to finally gain two strokes on the last two holes and to finish -9.
« I am happy with this last putt, it was a great one. I missed a short one on the 16th so these two birdies on the last two holes were nice.
This is my second tournament as a pro, I had played Preisch Open in France last September. I went though the Qualifying Stage in La Cala and i am happy with this maiden result. It was nice to play with Borja, we chatted a little and i did not feel the pressure. I only became nervous on the 16th. »
France’s Clément Berardo is the third guy of the podium. Alain Alberti’s protege (Raphaël Jacquelin’s coach) is playing his second year on Alps Tour. He recorded two top 5 and one runner-up place in 2013. He admitted his swing was still in building last year but he feels ready now.
« This course is not stressful. It is is good chap but even if you miss a shot, you won’t think you are going to make double bogey. But the greens are different from one side of the main road than from the other. From 5th to 13th hole, greens are more like on a links, quit firms and they are receptive on the other part of the course.
I played solid today, I did not think about the result, only shot by shot. My regret is the bogey on the last hole, a 1000 euro putt (500, in fact as he would have been second tied with Virto). I had a great drive, a 94 meter wedge, I told myself -you did it a hundred time- and I miss the green on the left. But I am satisfied and the goal for this season is to be in the top 6 this summer to get the exemption from Qualifying Stage 1 of the European Tour. »
From Sokhna Golf Club
19th February 2014 | Alps Tour Golf
Etchart and Virto co-leaders in Red Sea El Ein Bay Open
Spaniard rookie, Borja Virto shot 67 today to share the lead with his compatriot Borja Etchart at -7. He makes a good start for his first season on the Alps Tour. He is happy to be here where the weather is nice after long weeks of rain in Pamplona. “I played pretty good overall. I’m very comfortable with the tee shots, and irons to the greens. I made 28 good putts. And, I finished very well with a birdie on 6th hole and an eagle on the 8th hole.”
Borja Etchart returned a scorecard of 69 this afternoon. He will play in the final group tomorrow. The game promises to be very interesting.
Behind, the Austrian Tobias Nemecz signs a 69 today and takes the provisional third place.
At the 4th place, we find the Frenchman Clement Berardo who also shot 67 (-5) with six birdies and one bogey, all made possible thanks to a good driving and good tee shots. “This course is very pleasant and provides a comprehensive picture of our game at the start of the season.”
The first amateur is the Belgian Kevin Hesbois from Keerbergen GC who signed a 67. “A good wedge game and putting help a lot. I started with a birdie then I made six other birdies in a raw on the back nine. I’m happy to start the season here where the weather conditions are perfect to make good scores.
I’ll stay amateur this season and I hope to be part of my national team to play the World Amateur Championship.”
On the national field side, no Egyptian player managed to make the cut this week and the first in the ranking is the amateur Soliman El Aser. Next week will be better for sure.
Cut is fixed at +2 and 42 players will dispute the Final Round tomorrow from 8.30 am.
18th February 2014 | Alps Tour Golf
Etchart placed in Egypt
Spain’s Borja Etchart scored 68 during opening round of Red Sea El Ein Bay Open. He took the lead with a one shot narrow margin over French duo, Jean-Pierre Verselin and rookie Clément Batut.
Etchart, Alps Tour winner in 2013, discovered the golf course and Little Jaz Venice resort a few days ago. He attends the event for the first time and the place suits him very well.
“I didn’t play here last year but I like this course really much, a lot. Very great course and great location. Hotel is great and everything fine.”
He admitted the course is fair and that his putter was the most important club in his golf bag. The Spaniard holed seven birdies.
“I trained a lot in Madrid with my new coach Salvador Luna ( Santi’s brother) this winter to be ready to play a good season on Alps Tour. This is my intention and it is great to start the season here.”
Defending champion, England’s Andrew Cooley struggled on the fairways that crowned him last year. He shot four under par and needs to do better to play the final round.
The opportunity to avoid bad weather in Europe is much appreciated. Egypte is a rising golf nation and one of his young talent, the amateur Soliman El Aser managed to deal with the pressure very well. Among all the professionals, El Aser signed for solid 76 that let him in the middle of the leaderboard. he has a good chance to make the cut. He holed 3 birdies to day and is 65th tie.
17th February 2014 | Alps Tour Golf
Red Sea Winter Series
As the wet winter penalized Europe, players and Alps Tour are thrilled to finally start the 2014 season in great conditions. The inaugural two events will take place in Egypt, as in 2013, and the Sokhna Golf Club, part of the Jaz Little Venice Resort is in great shape to welcome Alps Tour Rising Stars.
These Winter Series are part of the international schedule and winners to come will take strong advantage to play on Challenge Tour nest year. The final top 5 of the ranking will get their card for the upper circuit in 2015 and last but not least, the top 6 at the end of August will earn precious exemption on European Tour Q School. They will avoid the first stage’s battle.
Many rookies and bigger names take the opportunity to play the Alps Tour events in Egypt to launch their season or to train.
Challenge Tour players such as Jason Palmer, Steven Brown, Andrea Rota will feel no pressure to try to catch a win. Former European Tour player, Italy’s Alessandro Tadini is the biggest player as far as years on main Tour is concerned.
Red Sea El Ein Bay Open is from 18-20th of February and Red Sea Little Venice Open is scheduled from 24th to 26th of February.
3rd February 2014 | Alps Tour Golf
Great field in Egypt
Andrew Cooley, defending champion of both events in Egypt will have to battle against strong players within less than a fortnight. The Englishman who won Red Sea Ain Bay Open and Red Sea Little Venice Open in 2013 after defeating his opponents into a play off is part of numerous Alps Tour winners in the field.
As the schedule is currently free on Challenge Tour, some famous names take the opportunity the Alps Tour offer to warm up in this 2014 season.
Former European Tour player, Italy’s Alessandro Tadini, 2004 World Cup player and 4 time winner on Challenge Tour will lead a great “Squadra Azzura” in Egypt. His 2004 team mate, Andrea Maestroni will attend as well. 2009 Alps Tour winner, Andrea Perrino will do his best to recover confidence and results in his game.
But Italy is not the only country to provide talents on courses and many British players would like to walk in Jason Palmer’s footsteps. Palmer won three times last year and will play on Challenge Tour in 2014. He decided to travel to Egypt to practice before the launch on his season. Same story for Steven Brown, 2013 graduate ans French player, 2012 graduate, Jérôme Lando-Casanova.