European Challenge Tour Rankings winner Andrea Pavan believes the sky is the limit after he became the first Italian to claim the title as the tour’s Number One since Edoardo Molinari, who achieved immediate European Tour success and Ryder Cup fame.
Molinari’s meteoric rise from Challenge Tour Number One in 2009 to two European Tour titles and the victorious European Ryder Cup team in 2010 has become something of golf folklore and certainly provides one of the biggest sources of inspiration among the hopefuls on European golf’s second tier.
There are obvious comparisons between Molinari, who bounced back from the disappointment of dropping off The European Tour in 2008 to record a record winning margin in the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2009, and Pavan, whose rookie season in the top tier last year also ended in disappointment.
The 24 year old’s pedigree was beyond reasonable doubt having burst on to the Challenge Tour scene in 2011 with two victories, including one at the prestigious season finale, to finish second in the Rankings behind Tommy Fleetwood.
After struggling to a disappointing European Tour campaign in 2012 with so much expectation on his shoulders, however, Pavan’s temperament and ability to deal with perceived failure was soon to be put under the gun.
Undeterred, the Roman proved unequivocally that he is made of world-beating stuff with a 2013 campaign that proved he possesses all the qualities which suggest he is sure to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Edoardo Molinari and reach the highest echelons of the game.
Pavan’s second Challenge Tour campaign was the one in which he added an unerring consistency, missing just two cuts in 23 appearances, to his already indefatigable desire to win, doubling his victory count on the Challenge Tour to four with victories at the Bad Griesbach Challenge Tour by Hartl Resort and Open Blue Green Côtes d'Armor Bretagne.
The former amateur star believes it will prove to be a defining season in his career.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” said Pavan. “I'm so happy with how things turned out this year and I'm really looking forward to next year.
“I was proud to make such a good comeback. It’s not easy to get back up and I showed that I can do it. It gives me a lot of confidence, especially because I do get down on myself sometimes so I need to believe in myself a bit more.
“Towards the end of last year I was struggling with my confidence. It was very disappointing but I learned from it and got back, worked hard in winter and got hungry again to get good results and get consistent again.
“This year has felt better than two years ago. In the first season, you come out and there is less pressure, but when you gain your card and fall back it can get harder for you.”
Molinari’s climb from the Challenge Tour to The Ryder Cup has provided Pavan with ample motivation for the immediate and long-term future and he is relishing the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of his compatriot and friend.
The Roman knows though, that he cannot get too ahead of himself and is just ready to take it step by step on the path to stardom.
“Edoardo took it to the next level,” he said. “He really dominated in 2009. I just played a bit better and more than other guys, I gave myself more chances.
“He actually texted me after two rounds this week saying, ‘it looks like you’re playing like Roma’, who have won ten times in a row now! I’m sure I will room with him a couple of times next year and he’s a good guy who I really look up to.
“He knows a lot about the game and he has put a lot of effort in. He has had two quite severe injuries but I think he will come back up and win again and I think he will make The Ryder Cup team again.
“I know he is a tough competitor so he is an inspiration for me of course. I could not even think about The Ryder Cup, I just need to take it step by step. I know I have the potential but it’s about showing it with results.
“You just need to play steady and see what happens. My goal will be to hopefully get in contention for titles next year and see where that takes me every week.
“Last year I felt like I wasn’t good enough compared to other guys, which probably took me down a little bit, but next year I will have a different approach.
“I need to be more at ease and feel like I can really compete with the top players.”
Pavan is certainly a man on top right now – on the top of his game, on top of the Rankings and, as he celebrates a career high, on top of the world.