Two victories in three starts earned Francesco Laporta the 2019 Road to Mallorca No. 1 spot. The Italian found form at the perfect time after finishing in a tie for seventh place at his national Open, a Rolex Series event on the European Tour. He then won his maiden title on the Challenge Tour at the Hainan Open before claiming the Grand Final itself at the new venue of Alcanada on Mallorca. In windy conditions, with rain causing a suspension on the final day, Laporta led from wire-to-wire, winning by two strokes over Sebastian Heisele and Robin Sciot-Siegrist.
“I came here just to fight for the number one spot, and I fought really hard,” said Laporta. “I played some of my best golf of the year this week on a tough course under tough conditions. It feels great and I’m really happy about the week. It’s just a dream. Dreams come true. To put another Italian name on the board of Challenge Tour number ones with people like Edoardo Molinari and Andrea Pavan, I’m really happy about that.”
The 29-year-old spent much of his early life in South Africa, where he first played golf and later spent three years on the Sunshine Tour. He played one season on the European Tour in 2016 after coming through the qualifying school but returned to the Challenge Tour the following year.
Heisele, the German who grew up in Dubai and is a multiple club champion at Emirates, won the Open de Bretagne and finished fourth on the Ranking, but France’s Sciot-Siegrist just missed out on his card. He had needed to finish second on his own at the Grand Final to dislodge Spain’s Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez from 15th place on the Ranking and the last card on offer.
Scotland’s Calum Hill finished runner-up to Laporta, also with two wins, at the Euram Bank Open and the Made in Denmark Challenge. Antoine Rozner was another two-time winner early in the season at the Challenge de Espana and Prague Golf Challenge. Richard Bland returned to the European Tour at the age of 46, finishing third on the Ranking. The winner of the 2001 Grand Final had no victories but was a runner-up four times and had three other top-10s. Compatriot Matthew Jordan, who won the Italian Challenge in his seventh start on the circuit, secured his card in his rookie season as a professional, while Jack Senior also qualified.
Adrian Meronk became the first Polish player to win a European Tour sanctioned event at the Open de Portugal and the first to secure a full card for the European Tour by finishing fifth on the Ranking. Others to earn their playing privileges for the main circuit for 2020 were France’s Robin Roussel, Portugal’s Ricardo Santos, Northern Ireland’s Cormac Sharvin, Oliver Farr, of Wales, Netherlands’ Darius van Driel, winner of the Rolex Trophy, and Scotland’s Conor Syme.
Denmark’s Benjamin Poke ended his rookie season on the Challenge Tour by winning the qualifying school at Lumine by six strokes over former three-time European Tour winner Gregory Havret. Poke’s 18-year-old compatriot Rasmus Hojgaard also secured one of the 28 cards on offer, while his identical twin Nicolai earned a place on the Challenge Tour in 2020.
Rasmus wasted no time in bettering Nicolai’s runner-up finish at the KLM Open by winning the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open after a playoff that included Rozner. Hojgaard became the first player born in the 21st century to win on the European Tour.