With the majority of the European Tour’s leading men in California to contest the US Open this week, the Saint-Omer Open presented by Neuflize OBC offers the chance for a lesser light to shine.

It’s a dual ranking event with prize money counting towards both the European Tour and Challenge Tour money lists – the only tournament of 2010 with that set-up. As such, the event sees an interesting mix of entrants from both circuits. Experienced European Tour players like Andrew Coltart, Peter Baker and Raphael Jacquelin will tee it up along with rising stars like Sam Hutsby, Mark Haastrup and the amateur Victor Dubuisson – 2009 European Amateur Champion.

Last year, Sweden’s Christian Nilsson showed the field a clean pair of heels, winning by six from Jose-Filipe Lima of Portugal. Lima will be back this year and the 2004 Champion is confident his positive memories of the venue will spark a return to form.

“I have great memories of my win here in 2004. It happened so quickly, because I had only just got my Challenge Tour card,” he said. “Hopefully I can have another good week.”

Andrew Coltart heads into the event in good form following another solid result in Portugal last week and after securing his spot in the Open Championship via International Final Qualifying at Sunningdale.

Another Scot, George Murray, starts the tournament full of confidence after his Challenge Tour victory at last week’s Scottish Hydro Challenge at Spey Valley.

Venue: Aa Saint-Omer Golf Club
Date: Jun 17-20
Course stats: par 73, 6,884 yards
Purse: €600,000 Winner: €100,000
Defending Champion: Christian Nilsson (-13)

Player Watch:
Raphael Jacquelin – The Frenchman is the biggest name on the start sheet and he will begin the week as favourite. He’s had a steady, unspectacular, season so far but this would be the perfect opportunity to make strides forward.
Robert Dinwiddie – The current Challenge Tour number 1 secured victory in the Kenya Open earlier this season. He’ll be looking to take advantage of the large purse on offer in this event.
George Murray – Fresh off the back of victory in the Scottish Hydro Challenge, the Scot will look to carry that form through to this week and earn a spot on next year’s European Tour.

Key hole: 17th. At 191 yards it requires a precise iron shot, particularly when the pin is at the back of the green. This hole will need to be negotiated carefully by the leaders on Sunday afternoon.

Skills required: A steady nerve. With the entire field desperate for victory to secure playing rights on the European Tour for 2011, competition in the event will be intense. Maximum concentration and determination will be required for success.