Jordi Garcia Pinto will be hoping to continue his superb early-season form as the Girona man returns to his native region for the Challenge de Catalunya at Lumine Golf and Beach Club.
The 24 year old is the current leader of the Challenge Tour Rankings after finishing in a tie for second place alongside European Tour player Richie Ramsay at the dual-ranking NH Collection Open, where Italian Marco Crespi prevailed.
Garcia Pinto flew out of the blocks this season as he briefly threatened to successfully defend his title at the Barclays Kenya Open, before falling away at the weekend and claiming a tied 29th finish.
Three weeks later, however, the Spaniard stormed to the top of the Rankings as a superb final round of 66 elevated him to second place, two shots behind winner and former Challenge Tour player Crespi.
“This is my home event so it is the one that I am most excited about all season,” said the Law graduate.
“I’m really looking forward to it, especially as I have started the season so well. I didn’t expect it all to happen this early, but I knew sooner or later things were going to work out well.
“I worked on every aspect of my game before the start of the season, especially my putting. I haven’t made many changes to my game or my training, but I’ve started working with Ricardo Boada and he is working with adjusting my swing a little.
“It's been a long time since I’ve played Lumine, so I’m looking forward to going back. I think it’s going to be a great event, and I hope to do well.”
Garcia Pinto is well aware that leading the Rankings early in the season is no guarantee of success come the season’s end, having shot straight to the top early in 2013 thanks to his win at the Barclays Kenya Open before missing out on the top 15 and graduation to The European Tour.
That is the main lesson he learned last season, and is determined not to let it happen again.
“One thing I am working on this year is not relaxing after a good tournament,” he said. “I could be relaxed right now after my last tournament, but you can lose sight of your goal. It happened to me last year, after I was leading the Rankings at this time of the year. You learn from these things, and I’ve learned to adapt from last year’s experience.”
Garcia Pinto heads a strong field for the third event of the 2014 Challenge Tour season, which also includes his fellow Catalunya native and 2010 Rankings winner Alvaro Velasco.
Pedro Oriol, meanwhile, will be hoping to go one better than his runner-up finish at the Barclays Kenya Open as he looks to build on his strong start to the season.
Former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson will be searching for his first Challenge Tour title at Lumine, while Bradley Dredge and José Manuel Lara, both two-time winners on The European Tour, will also be present.
The Challenge de Catalunya is the tournament in which promising American Brooks Koepka claimed his first professional title, in 2012, before going on to claim three more victories the following season on his way to automatic promotion to The European Tour.