Victor Perez knows all too well the fine margins in golf following his 18th place finish in the European Challenge Tour Rankings last season.
The Frenchman missed out on graduating from the Challenge Tour by 9,501 Ranking points, despite his win at the Challenge de España in October last year.
This season he wants to make sure he finishes inside the top 15 on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah, and starting the year on the front foot will help him on his way. Perez finished tied 18th at the Barclays Kenya Open last month and will be hoping for another strong performance at the Belt and Road Colourful Yunnan Open in China this week.
“I want to take revenge for what happened last year. I do think I have a bit of a point to prove, after coming so close to the top 15,” explained Perez.
“Starting the year with two big tournaments is great and you just have to try and hit the ground running as a good early result can take the pressure off – you don’t feel like you are always chasing.
“Last year I got off to a slow start, and it was my first year so I was a little inexperienced, so I felt as though I had to press early which I think had a negative impact on my game in the middle of the season.
“I know that I am playing well after a couple of good finishes on the European Tour and given how I was playing at the end of last season, and although you never know what’s going to happen in golf, I do have a lot of belief coming into this week.”
The 25 year old has recorded two tied 13th results on the European Tour already this season at the Joburg Open and Tshwane Open in a bid to maintain his form throughout the Challenge Tour campaign.
The experience gained from the positive finishes in South Africa, plus his victory at the Challenge de España 12 months ago, will help him during his quest to graduate to the European Tour via the Road to Ras Al Khaimah.
“It is difficult to come out of the gates at the start of the season but I do feel as though I am playing well after competing regularly over the winter,” he said. “I played in five European Tour events over the winter which has been so good for me.
“It is difficult to set your goals at the start of the season as you never know how things are going to come off, but I do think I am going to focus all my efforts on the Challenge Tour this season.
“Obviously it was a huge point in my career to win on the Challenge Tour. I proved to myself that I can compete with the guys on this tour and you see each year how competitive this tour is with the guys who graduate going on to contend on the European Tour.
“If you win on the Challenge Tour you might not be in a position to go and straight away win on the European Tour but you can definitely compete at the very highest level.”
Arriving at Yulongwan Golf Club in fine form are Finland's Kalle Samooja and Germany's Philipp Mejow, who were both firmly in contention at the season-opening Barclays Kenya Open where they both eventually settled for a share of third place alongside Chile's Nico Geyger.
Flying the flag for the home favourites will be China’s Zhang Hui-lin, who held the halfway lead at the 2017 Foshan Open before finishing in a share of sixth during his last Challenge Tour appearance.