De la Riva is currently in 31st place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, thanks chiefly to his maiden Challenge Tour victory at the Fred Olsen Challenge de España in May, and the 30 year old has now targeted a second win on Spanish soil as he bids to climb into the all-important top 20.With just four tournaments remaining after this week’s €160,000 event in Tarragona, northern Spain, de la Riva knows that time is running out if he is to secure a European Tour card.
But after achieving some encouraging results in recent weeks – including a top ten finish at the Rolex Trophy – de la Riva is confident of mounting a bold bid to secure a second victory of the season, and with it almost certain promotion to the top tier.He said: “I’ve been playing well, but my putting has let me down. I putted very badly in Russia all week, then improved for the first three days in Kazakhstan, but on the fourth day my putter went very cold again. I’ve been hitting the ball well for quite a while now, so if I can get it going on the greens this week, hopefully I can do well.
“I’ve only played the course once, in a tournament three years ago, and it was very windy. Because you’re near to the coast you often get quite a strong wind blowing, which can make life difficult. The course is fairly tricky anyway, because there are a few blind shots and it’s quite hilly. So it won’t be easy, but I will do my best.“I live very close to the course, so I’m sure I will have some people coming to watch me this week. Winning the Challenge de España earlier in the season was great, but because it was on the Canary Islands it was too far for my friends and family to come. So to win this week would be even more special, because I’ve lived all my life in Catalunya.”
Another Spaniard with designs on delighting the locals is Carlos Aguilar, currently two places below de la Riva in the Rankings in 33rd.Aguilar made a stunning start to his Challenge Tour season by finishing in a tie for fourth place in the ALLIANZ Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne and runner-up at the Telenet Trophy in May; but lost form at the crucial time, missing the cut in Kazakhstan two weeks ago.
The 29 year old has never played Club de Golf La Graeira but is hoping to put on a show for his wife and their one month old son Carlos, who will be travelling north from their home in Alicante for the week.
Aguilar said: “Carlos came to watch me play for the first time in a tournament back home last Monday, and I managed to win, so hopefully I can do the same again this week! It was obviously very disappointing to miss the cut in Kazakhstan, because even just a top 20 finish would have made a big difference to my position in the Rankings. But hopefully I can have a very strong finish to the season, starting with this week.”The strong field contains no fewer than 12 champions from this season’s Challenge Tour.