Stuart Manley will be hoping to rekindle the kind of form which earned him a third Challenge Tour last month, when he tees it up in this week’s B-NL Challenge Trophy at The Dutch.
The Welshman has struggled for form since claiming victory at the Euram Bank Open in Austria just over a month ago, and hopes the tough test of The Dutch, an inland links course, can bring out his best golf and trigger a return to winning ways.
“I didn’t play great the last couple of weeks, and I had a couple of weeks off before Denmark so I’m just trying to find a little bit of form after the win in Austria,” said Manley. “I would like to get into contention this week if I can.
“The course looks in great condition. I played here a few years ago in a European Tour event and I remember it being quite tough as it’s quite a windy place. It looks a little bit greener this year and I’m sure it will provide a stern test.”
The 42-year-old currently sits in 27th place on the Road to Mallorca Rankings and admits regaining European Tour playing rights for the 2022 season would be invaluable for him at this stage of his career. He is drawing inspiration from Challenge Tour alumnus Richard Bland, who managed to claim his first win on the European Tour in the British Challenge at the age of 48.
“It would mean a lot to break into the top 20,” he said. “Obviously, it would present bigger and better opportunities next year with the prize funds being a lot higher and being in the later stages of my career, it would be amazing. I picked up an injury at the start of the season which meant I didn’t even think I would be playing this year but with a young child now, I would love to get back on the European Tour and get some good results and let him see me doing well. That would be really cool.”
“I’ve played a lot of golf with Blandy over the years, and he is an exceptional golfer. He should have won a lot earlier than that and it does give you optimism and keeps you going because you realise it could be you that has a massive week like that.”
Manley believes it is harder to win on the Challenge Tour than ever due to quality on show, combined with the unremitting nature of the Tour, but admits he wouldn’t want to be in any other profession.
“I think the Challenge Tour is extremely tough,” he said. “The strength and depth across both the Challenge Tour and the European Tour is brilliant and the lesser golfing countries from years ago have really stepped up and built great programs. It takes some decent golf and a bit of luck to win out here because the standard is so high now, anyone can compete and it’s fingers crossed you come out on top at the end of the week.
“I absolutely love my job; I couldn’t think of anything better to be doing. I’ve always loved it since I turned pro and every single day I wake up and look forward to practicing.”
Manley joins Road to Mallorca Number One Santiago Tarrio, five-time Challenge Tour winner Ricardo Gouveia and home favourite Daan Huizing in a star-studded field in the Netherlands this week.
The action gets under way at 7:30am local time, with Manley teeing it up alongside two-time Challenge Tour winner Roope Kakko and Italian Lorenzo Scalise at 12:50pm.