Argentina’s Estanislao Goya will attempt to further enhance his burgeoning reputation when he returns to the European Challenge Tour this week for the inaugural Piemonte Open in Turin, Italy.
Goya’s first visit as a professional to Italy last week was a resounding success, with the teenager recording a tied 12th finish at the Methorios Capital Italian Open in Milan, a tournament which marked his debut appearance on The European Tour.
Goya currently leads the Challenge Tour Rankings with earnings of €35,494, following a string of impressive performances in his rookie season.
The Argentine managed three consecutive top five finishes when the Challenge Tour visited South America at the start of the year, with his maiden victory coming at the 77th Abierto VISA del Centro 2008 presentado por Personal in his homeland.
After stepping up to The European Tour at Castello di Tolcinasco Golf and Country Club last week, Goya proved he had a fine temperament to match his undoubted talent by holding his own in such elevated company.
He said: “I’m very happy with how I played, and I had lots of fun. They treat you really well on The European Tour. Of course I tried to give my best, but I also wanted to enjoy it. So far so good, and hopefully I can keep it up over the rest of the season.
“I’ve been working really hard for this for the past two years, since I turned professional. My life has changed so much. I travelled a lot when I was an amateur, but nothing like this. I’m going all over the world on the Challenge Tour and The European Tour – first to France, then to Morocco, and now to Italy. But I really enjoy it – I like the life.”
Goya will be joined at the Royal Park Golf and Country Club and Circolo Golf Torino – the first two rounds will be played over both courses, with the final two rounds contested solely at the Royal Park G&CC – by Paraguay’s Marco Ruiz.
The 33 year old, who spent eight months away from the game in order to recuperate from a serious back injury, followed up his top 15 finish at the Open de España with another creditable finish at the Methorios Capital Italian Open.
Ruiz, currently in seventh place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, had led after the first day’s play in Milan, before dropping back and eventually finishing in a tie for 38th place.
Like Goya, Ruiz already has a Challenge Tour victory to his name this season, having triumphed over home favourite Angel Cabrera at the 102nd Abierto VISA de la Republica presentado por Peugeot.
Recalling that victory last December, Ruiz said: “It was a wonderful experience for me. Angel Cabrera’s my idol – I admire him a lot. The Argentina Open is like a Major for Latin Americans. About 11,000 Argentinians wanted Cabrera to win, but I managed to beat him – it was amazing.”
Indeed, Ruiz’s victory was made all the more spectacular by the fact that he had only recently returned to the golf course after his potentially career-threatening back injury.
He explained: “I had to withdraw from the Spanish Open in Madrid in 2006, and after that I had to quit golf for about eight months. It was a problem with a disc in my back. I was very worried for my career. But after my break I started practising again, and thanks God I’m much better now.
“I don’t know when it will come back – hopefully it’s disappeared. But if I can wake up every morning without pain and play golf, I’m the happiest man in the world. Golf is my life – it’s how I earn a living.”
Another player to collect a sizeable pay cheque at last week’s Methorios Capital Italian Open was local favourite Marco Soffietti, who at one stage briefly led the tournament after a sparkling round of 63 on the third day.
Soffietti will again carry the home nation’s hopes when he tees up at the Piemonte Open, which carries a prize fund of €150,000.
Other notable names in the field include Finland’s Antti Ahokas and Holland’s Wil Besseling, both already winners on the Challenge Tour this season and in second and fifth place respectively in the Rankings.
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