In a scene befitting an event on The Race to Dubai, four of this week’s field got to pose in front of the iconic Chongqing skyline to help publicise the inaugural Shankai China Classic presented by IDG, an event that could yet define the seasons of both Matthew Fitzpatrick and Michael Lorenzo-Vera.(pictured by David Paul Morris)
Both have had their own success on the European Challenge Tour in 2014, but in slightly different style, with the much heralded Englishman having posted four top 11 finishes from his previous six starts.
Last time out at the Roma Golf Challenge Open was a mixed week for Fitzpatrick though after posting his best ever finish on the second tier – a tie for seventh at Olgiata Golf Club – but also having his golf clubs stolen, as well as the belongings of both his girlfriend and his manager.
Mixed fortunes then for the Sheffield native, but after a week at home working on his game he is excited to visit China for the first time, as he embarks on a three tournament run at making the top 45 on the Rankings and qualify for the season-ending Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club.
“I feel good, after a difficult end to the week in Rome,” said the man at 53rd on the season-long list. “My game feels like it is in good shape, and I saw my coach Mike Walker on Friday last week, and Pete Cowan on the Thursday, and they both say it is looking alright, so I am looking forward to getting started this week.
“This is my first time to China so it’s a new experience for me, which the Challenge Tour has been good for so far, as I’ve not gone to many places on The European Tour where I have never been before. Things are different at these events though, as they are a little smaller, but it is all great experience and a nice place to be, so this week is another one to tick off the list.
“It is tough out here as everyone wants to make it to the top, and this is where you have to start. There are a lot of young guys and they are all aiming for the same thing – getting their card and making that top 15, which is not easy at all.
“I just need to try and do my best and whatever happens, happens. If I make it to the Grand Final then it makes my life a lot easier, and hopefully I won’t need to go to the Qualifying School, but it looks like that will likely be the case.
“To do your time here is all part of the learning experience, to get used to going away and playing week after week. It is all part of your development as a player.”
This week is also a big one – but in a different way to Fitzpatrick – for the resurgent Lorenzo-Vera, who has stormed back this season to play some of his best golf after a few years in the doldrums.
Eight top 12 finishes so far this year have been the foundation of that, with the man from the south of France back in the kind of form that saw him play his way on to The European Tour in 2008, after a Grand Final triumph the year prior saw him top the Rankings.
He also comes to China with form having posted his best ever Race to Dubai finish at the 2008 Volvo China Open when he finished runner-up, and as he continues to reap the rewards of changes he has made off the course this year, a return to The European Tour for the first time in four seasons could well be in the offing.
“I am not changing anything this week as it has worked well so far,” said the 29 year old. “I am coming off three weeks rest so my mind is pretty fresh and I’ll just continue what I’ve been doing, play good golf, and I think that should work. I don’t really need to think about getting to The European Tour, the focus is just on playing well.
“I have changed everything this year – the whole team – as I am working again with my brother on my technique and Benoit Teilleria for my mental coaching. Everything is just better for me, finances are better than before, and that all makes it much easier to play good golf.
“I have always played good in China, every time I have come here it has gone well, so I am pretty confident. I like the course, it suits my game, and it is pretty open so I can play some good golf here and have some fun.
“This is the fun thing now, you can make a cut and still earn good money with these big events on the Challenge Tour, and when we come to China it is always well organised. The course is great, the hotel is great, and I love the food here, so everything is better here. They are big events, you feel that, which is nice.”
Source: European Tour