European Challenge Tour’s fight to the finish a tight one

RAS AL KHAIMAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 03: Adri Arnaus of Spain celebrates victory on the 18th hole green after winning the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final of day four at Al Hamra Golf Club on November 3, 2018 in Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images) Tom Dulat/Getty Images

European Challenge Tour’s fight to the finish a tight one

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European Challenge Tour’s fight to the finish a tight one

The price between success and failure on this year’s European Challenge Tour: $687.

That was the difference between 15th and 16th place on the money list at the conclusion of the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final.

Spain’s Adri Arnaus won the tournament, but he was just one of 15 stories as the tournament settled the final money-list positions, and the 15 players who graduated to the 2019 European Tour.

Portugal’s Pedro Figueiredo began the week 17th on the money list. A T-13 finish was good enough to unseat England’s Tom Murray from the 15th spot. Murray, son of 1989 European Open winner Andrew Murray, dropped to 16th with a T-25 finish.

Denmark’s Joachim B. Hansen took the No. 1 card with $253,000 in earnings. Four Scottish players earned cards. So did American Sean Crocker, a two-time All-American at Southern Cal.

Here is the class of 2018:

Joachim B. Hansen

Country: Denmark
Age: 28
Best European Tour finish: T-3, 2013 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open
Buzz: Third time as a Challenge Tour graduate following 2012 and 2015. Kept his main tour card in 2013 but lost it in 2014, and also 2016.

Adri Arnaus

Country: Spain
Age: 24
Best European Tour finish: T-45, 2018 Australian PGA Championship
Buzz: Finished 2018 in style by winning final Challenge Tour event. Played college golf at Texas A&M, graduating with degree in finance.

Victor Perez

Country: France
Age: 26
Best European Tour Finish: Sixth, 2018 Belgian Knockout.
Buzz: Two Challenge Tour wins, including 2018 Foshan Open, earned him European Tour card.

Kalle Samooja

Country: Finland
Age: 30
Best European Tour finish: T-35, 2018 Shot Clock Masters
Buzz: Has endured seven unsuccessful Qualifying School trips since 2008. Won this year’s Hainan Open to earn main tour card.

Sebastian Soderberg

Country: Sweden
Age: 28
Best European Tour finish: T-3, 2015 Nordea Masters
Buzz: Played college golf at Coastal Carolina, where he was nicknamed “Seabass” after character in “Dumb and Dumber.”

Jack Singh Brar

Country: England
Age: 21
Best European Tour finish: T-58, 2017 Australian PGA Championship
Buzz: Won three points out of four in 2017 Walker Cup. Impressed Ian Poulter while playing with the Ryder Cup star in 2017 Open Championship Final Qualifying.

Grant Forrest

Country: Scotland
Age: 25
Best European Tour finish: 17th, ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth
Buzz: Won four times at University of San Diego. Runnerup in 2015 British Amateur Championship and played in 2015 Walker Cup.

Kim Koivu

Country: Finland
Age: 27
Best European Tour finish: T-7, 2018 Portugal Masters
Buzz: Guaranteed main tour card with three Challenge Tour wins this season. Became first Finn to win Vierumäki Finnish Challenge.

Stuart Manley

Country: Wales
Age: 39
Best European Tour finish: T-2, 2017 Joburg Open, 2013 Hong Kong Open
Buzz: Eldest graduate. Gained the winning point for GB&I in 2003 Walker Cup. Played college golf at West Florida.

Liam Johnston

Country: Scotland
Age: 25
Best European Tour finish: T-22, 2018 Porsche European Open
Buzz: Graduated to main tour with two Challenge Tour wins in Andalucía – Costa de Sol Match Play and Kazakhstan Open.

Sean Crocker

Country: United States
Age: 22
Best European Tour finish: T-5 ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth
Buzz: Was a two-time All-American at Southern Cal. Qualified for British Open at Carnoustie and placed T-47.

Robert MacIntyre

Country: Scotland
Age: 22
Best European Tour finish: T-42, 2018 Joburg Open
Buzz: Played in 2017 Walker Cup. Played Cameron Champ twice in singles, winning 6 and 4 and halving second match. Plays left-handed.

Lorenzo Gagli

Country: Italy
Age: 33
Best European Tour finish: Second, 2011 Bankia Madrid Masters
Buzz: Only needed nine Challenge Tour starts, fewest by any graduate, to earn 2019 European Tour card.

David Law

Country: Scotland
Age: 27
Best European Tour finish: T-29, 2016 Tshwane Open.
Buzz: Two-time Scottish Amateur champion who strangely was omitted from the 2011 GB&I Walker Cup team.

Pedro Figueiredo

Country: Portugal
Age: 27
Best European Tour finish: T-30, 2014 Portugal Masters
Buzz: Won 2008 British Boys Amateur Championship. Has made four unsuccessful trips to European Tour Qualifying School. Gwk

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