With visits to Mexico and Argentina, the chance to play for $550,000, and the possibility of competing against two of Argentina’s greatest ever golfers at the centenary of the county’s national Open Championship, the 2006 European Challenge Tour season is set to open in style at the VIP Abierto de Mexicano, from December 1-4, 2005, followed by the Abierto Visa de la Republica presented by Bridgestone, from December 8-11.

As it has done for the previous three years, the new Challenge Tour season will tee off in Central America, where the race for The 2007 European Tour will commence and offer the opportunity to make a telling start to the race for the Number One Spot on the 2006 Rankings.

Jointly sanctioned with the Tour de las Americas (TLA), the VIP Abierto de Mexicano carries a prize fund of US$305,000 and will be staged at the Club de Golf de la Hacienda, Mexico City, Mexico, where, 12 months ago, Argentina’s Rafael Gomez made a winning start to the 2005 season.

Gomez’s victory in Mexico went a long way in securing the 38 year old 11th position on the final 2005 Rankings, which guaranteed him a place on next season’s European Tour as one of the Challenge Tour’s elite top 20 and highlighted the importance of the new season’s opening events.

The Abierto Visa de la Republica presented by Bridgestone will celebrate 100 years of Argentina’s national Open Championship, and offer the Challenge Tour players the opportunity to go up against European Tour champions Angel Cabrera and Eduardo Romero at the Jockey Club, Buenos Aries, Argentina, where US$255,000 is on offer.

The tournament will boast a truly top class international field, with 55 Challenge Tour Members joining Cabrera, Romero and 53 other Argentine players as well as 15 non Argentine Members of the Tour de las Americas, 20 qualifiers, six invited players and five Amateurs.

Cabrera and Romero will be the star attractions at the Jockey Club, where 2005 BMW Championship winner Cabrera secured the first of his three European Tour International Schedule victories at the 2001 Open de Argentina.

Romero, meanwhile, is among Argentina’s most revered sportsmen. The 50 year old won the 1989 Argentine Open and has recorded eight European Tour victories as well as six Argentine PGA Championships, the Chile Open and two Mexican Open titles.

Alain de Soultrait, Director of the European Challenge Tour, said: “We are, once again, delighted to be able to announce that the beginning of the new season will again take place in Mexico with our friends from the Tour de las Americas.

“We have been visiting Central America for the past three years, and our partnership with the TLA continues to blossom. These events before Christmas give our Members the chance to compete all year round, while affording the TLA players the opportunity to break onto the Challenge Tour, which so many South and Central American players have achieved in the past three years.

“It is also a huge honour for the Challenge Tour to have been invited by the Argentine Golf Association to play such a significant role in the centenary of its national Open Championship at the Abierto Visa de la Republica presented by Bridgestone. We look forward to the 2006 season with a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm.”

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