Tyler Koivisto burst on to the scene with a life-changing victory in Northern Ireland last year and, following Kristof Ulenaer’s debut win last week, he is feeling rejuvenated ahead of the Challenge de España, which takes place at Iberostar Real Club de Golf Novo Sancti Petri from June 15 – 18.
Before Ulenaers, Koivisto was the last player to win on his European Challenge Tour debut when he triumphed at the Northern Ireland Open supported by The R&A in 2020, when he took advantage of a last minute entry by claiming a maiden victory.
The former primary school teacher commended Ulenaers for his emphatic victory in the Challenge de Cádiz and explained the impact that a debut victory had on his own career.
“Congratulations to Kristof for last week,” he said. “It was definitely life changing for me as I went to play those European Tour events after and also having a category on the Tour this year from that win and then a full Challenge Tour schedule as well, it was a great feeling.
“It did take a while to sink in after the winner’s interview, but it was cool. When you’re training and playing well, and the stars align in your career, it is a nice feeling.
“I was able to do a few more things with sponsors and obviously getting more starts and I got to play in the Irish Open just a month later which was very neat. I had my first Irish Open and then just got better opportunities as I progressed.”
Looking ahead to this week, the 28-year-old believes the course will pose different challenges to when last year’s tournament was played in November and outlined the need for a clear course strategy.
“It is a different time of year to when I played here last time,” he said. “I think I played the course in November so I imagine it is a little firmer and maybe a little faster this time of the year with the heat.
“I know there are a lot of birdies out there on this course but there are also some areas where you can get into trouble, especially on the back nine. There are a few holes where you have to hit it pretty straight and then just try and get the wedges and the putter going.
“You can make a lot of good runs; it feels like every six holes or so there are stretches where you can really turn it up and then look to play conservative on some of the more difficult holes.”
The American has struggled for form so far this season but believes he is not too far away from performing well and a strong performance in the Challenge de España could provide the perfect platform for a successful season.
“I am just going to continue working on the little things that I have been doing,” he said. “I haven’t been playing that well the last couple of months but I feel like the games heading in the right direction and I’m just trying to do the little things to get back and be successful again.”
The Challenge de España will begin at 8:00am local time on Tuesday June 15, with Koivisto teeing it up at 1:30pm alongside Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open champion JC Ritchie and Spaniard Alejandro Del Rey.