Fresh from celebrating his 20th birthday, Estanislao Goya will turn his attentions to regaining pole position on the European Challenge Tour Rankings when he returns to action at the Reale Challenge de España this week.
The Argentine surrendered top spot to Gary Boyd when the Englishman finished second in the DHL Wroclaw Open but he could resume control in the race to graduate to The European Tour with a good showing at the Casino Club de Golf Retamares, Madrid, Spain.
Goya is still trying to reproduce the form he showed in South America in the earlier part of the 2008 season since the Challenge Tour moved to Africa then Europe.
Having beaten Boyd to win the Abierto Visa del Centro presentado por Personal in his homeland, Goya then finished third in 103 Abierto VISA de la Republica presentado por Peugeot, also in Argentina, and fifth in the II Club Colombia Masters.
However, after finishing outside the top 40 in Morocco, Italy and Poland, he has been replaced at the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings, although a tied 12th place finish in the Methorios Capital Italian Open on The European Tour in his last outing provided further evidence of the rookie’s undoubted talent.
After turning 20 on Sunday, Goya will be keen to build on that performance in Madrid but will face strong competition, with Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey also aiming for his second win of the season, after his victory at the Banque Populaire Moroccan Classic 2008.
South American pair Miguel Rodriguez, of Argentina, and Marco Ruiz, of Paraguay, are also chasing their second titles of the 2008 Schedule, following victories at the Abierto del Litoral Personal 2007 and the 102 Abierto VISA de la Republica presentado por Peugeot respectively.
Scot Richie Ramsay is also included in the field competing for the €140,000 prize fund following a strong showing at the Oceânico Group Pro-Am Challenge.
Recent winners of the Challenge de España should provide some inspiration for the players. In 2004, José-Filipe Lima triumphed a week before he won the Aa St Omer Open while last year’s champion, Felipe Aguilar of Chile, went on to finish third on the 2007 Challenge Tour Rankings which gave him the springboard to win this season’s Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open in February.
The Casino Club de Golf Retamares has undergone some modification since England’s Ben Mason claimed the 2007 Open Mahou de Madrid there last May, including reshaped fairways and more than 750 new trees planted.