HOMEGROWN talent Jamie Moul is hoping to put the disappointment of last year’s English Challenge behind him as he looks to secure his third top-two finish in as many weeks at Stoke by Nayland.
The 26-year-old has shot up to fourth in the Challenge Tour rankings after his maiden win in Italy, the Acaya Open, which was followed by a second place at last week’s Credit Suisse Challenge.
And a win at his home tournament this week would see him almost guarantee himself a move up to the prestigious PGA European Tour to tee off alongside the likes of recent major winners Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, as well as world number one Luke Donald.
Moul, rated above McIlroy as the country’s leading amateur in 2007, missed the cut at last year’s tournament after some wayward putting cost him dear, but is confident it will be an altogether different story this time around.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said of teeing off on his home course later today. “I have lots of friends and family from nearby who come and watch, and the members of the club are great at giving me plenty of support.
“There should be quite a few people up there watching me, especially after my win in Italy, so it’s an extra incentive – I can’t wait.
“I haven’t actually been home since my win because I went straight to Switzerland from Italy the day after, so it’ll be nice to catch up with a few people – although I might delay any celebrations until the week after!”
But the Colchester-based player believes the win in Italy will help reduce the pressure on him this week and allow him to play to his potential in front of his home crowd.
He said: “Getting the win probably takes some of the pressure off me, if anything.
“Because I got my first win under my belt and some money on the board, I can probably relax and enjoy it a bit more. I missed the cut last year, although I actually played quite nicely – I just didn’t hole any putts. It was just one of many tournaments last year which didn’t go quite according to plan, but I’m feeling much better about my game now, so hopefully I can have a better week this time.”
He added: “After finishing first and second in my last two events, I’d probably take third this week – although I’d obviously love to win it!”
Other Englishmen looking to win on home soil include last year’s runner-up Tommy Fleetwood, who like Moul is a product of the English Golf Union (EGU) and finished one stroke off winner Australian Daniel Gaunt in the inaugural event, which is again sponsored by Hambric Sports Group.
Another young Englishman guided through the ranks by the EGU, 19-year-old Chris Lloyd, has also performed creditably in his first full season on the Challenge Tour, and the boy from Bristol currently sits 16th in the rankings with earnings of 38,168 euros, thanks chiefly to top 10 finishes at the Mugello Tuscany Open (second) and the ALLIANZ Challenge de France (tied seventh).