The Challenge Tour is the second tier men's professional golf tour in Europe. It is operated by the PGA European Tour and as with on the main European Tour and the European Seniors Tour, some of the events are played outside of Europe. World ranking points are awarded for high finishes in Challenge Tour events. Most Challenge Tour events give 12 OWGR points to the winner, with those co-sanctioned by the European Tour earning 18 points. The Challenge Tour Grand Final gives 16 points to the winner.
In 2014, a number of events would receive slightly higher points totals, with three events earning a minimum of 13 points and the Challenge Tour Grand Final winner receiving 17 points.
The tour was introduced in 1986 and was initially called the Satellite Tour. The Order of Merit was introduced in 1989, with the top five players on it winning membership of the European Tour for the following season. The following year the tour was renamed the Challenge Tour. Up to 1993 the Challenge Tour Rankings were based on each players' best several results, but since 1994 it has been a straightforward money list, with all results counting. In 2008 the total prize fund was €6,017,393.
Players who are successful on the Challenge Tour qualify for membership of the European Tour the following year. Fifteen players earn direct promotion to the European Tour. Players finishing 16-45 may also gain qualification for occasional low-prize money European Tour Events, but can improve their status through European Tour Qualifying School. Players who win three Challenge Tour events in a season are fast-tracked onto the main tour immediately, similar to the "battlefield promotion" of the US-based Web.com Tour.
One competitive level down from the Challenge Tour are four third-level developmental tours—the Alps Tour, the EPD Tour, the PGA EuroPro Tour and the Nordic League, each of which is based in a different region of Europe. These circuits are now collectively known as the Satellite Tour. Each season the top five players from the Order of Merit of each of these tours wins a place on the Challenge Tour for the following season. The Challenge Tour also has an annual qualifying school.
Challenge Tour Rankings winners
|2002||Lee S James||England||€121,531|
|1994||Raymond Burns||Northern Ireland||£43,584|
|1991||David R. Jones||England||£35,533|
The PGA European Tour does track career earnings on the Challenge Tour. A ranking of career earnings would be of little value as a measure of success, since the objective of players on the tour is to leave it as soon as possible by winning promotion to the main tour.
Schedules by year
The table below summarises the development of the tour since 1999, which was the year that the euro became the currency of record for the tour. Individual tournaments have purses fixed in a mixture of British pounds, euro and U.S. dollars, so year on year changes in the total prize fund reflect exchange rate fluctuations as well as prize fund movements in constant currencies.
|Year||Ranking tournaments||Total prize money (€)|
Notes and references
- "OWGR Board Announces Adjustments To Ranking System". OWGR. 6 August 2014.
- European Tour - Exemption Categories[dead link]
- "The Challenge Tour in numbers". PGA European Tour. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- 2002 statistics include one abandoned tournament with a planned purse of €130,000.