Russian roots help Kaleka to Challenge Cup success
Going into the final day of the competition at the Tseleevo Club, it looked as if Alessandro Tadini was well on his way to claiming his 5th European Challenge Tour title this season.
However, a combination of miserable weather conditions and final day nerves ensured a dramatic end.
Tadini’s two-point lead over a pack of four players tied in second place meant playing it safe was not an option.
Austria’s Florian Praegant and England’s Chris Lloyd blew their chance to overhaul the Italian early on, each hitting a bogey and double bogey.
But Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen and France’s Alexandre Kaleka kept the pressure on, going into the back nine holes.
Tadini, finally, lost his cool, hitting three bogeys and allowing Kaleka, Madsen and surprisingly, Chile’s Mark Tullo, to take advantage.
Tadini did cancel out two bogeys with two birdies, but another bogey on the 18th meant that Alexandre Kaleka had won the cup after the managing to save a par on the final hole.
“I felt good the whole day I think I played even bit better than I scored,” Kaleka told RT. “If there’s a tournament next year I’d really like to come to Russia because my grandparent are from here. I’ve never met them, but they are from Russia and I like this place, especially, the course.”
Runner-up Mark Tullo, who also needed Tadini to slip up to win, said that in doing that he failed to notice Kaleka, but was content with his overall performance.
"Unfortunately, Tadini had a bogey on the last and I saw Kaleka was in the bushes – big time – and he made a very good par. Hats off to him,” he said. “I’m very happy to be in the second place. I was 30th in the rankings and it helped me a lot.”
The Russian Challenge Cup was held for the third time this year and just like in all the previous editions of the event, there were no local golfers fighting for the trophy.
But hopefully in the coming years, should this tournament continue to grow as it has in the past, there’ll be more Russians trying to break the mold and take something home from this fantastic tournament.