Ricardo Gouveia enters this week’s limited-field ROLEX Trophy as the current leader of the Road to Oman Rankings, and the Portuguese is hoping to turn his remarkably consistent form into a second victory of the season at the exclusive Golf Club de Genéve.
The 24 year old has virtually secured his graduation to The European Tour for the 2016 season after an incredible performance so far throughout a campaign which comprises one victory, two runner-up finishes, a further five top tens and not a single missed cut in 12 appearances.
The determined former University of Central Florida student is currently 138th in the Official World Golf Ranking, 148 places above former World Number One and 14-time Major Champion Tiger Woods.
Despite the added pressure that comes with being top of the pile in Europe’s top developmental tour, Gouveia is revelling in his current form and cannot wait to get started at the 42-man event in Geneva, which is unique on the Challenge Tour in that it is played in a Pro-Am format.
“I think I become more confident throughout the season,” said the man who plays out of Guardian Bom Sucesso in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. “I think every time I step onto the first tee I know I have a chance to shoot a low score.
“This year, in pressure situations, I have been dealing a lot better and I have been playing the last few holes well, that is a very important thing to have.”
As with some of the previous events this year, Gouveia will have his father on the bag this week, and he feels this will help him in his quest to become the first Portuguese winner in the history of the prestigious ROLEX Trophy.
“My dad knows me well of course and it is great to have him on the bag,” he said. “He is not the kind of caddie who tells you what to do if I don’t ask him.
“He will tell me his opinion only if I ask him. If not, I just do my thing and that is how we work. I feel relaxed, almost at home, when he is on the bag.
“I remember in Madeira, for example, I was quite frustrated and usually I deal quite well to stay calm but that time, he found the right words to help me to control my emotions and turned the situation around.
“I like this kind of golf course, with trees around, where you have to shape the ball. You have to control the ball flight and of course you have to hit good wedge shots, because it is not the longest course either.
“I like to see the trees on the golf course to pick some targets, it helps me. And, of course, every time I come to a tournament, I know I have the capability of winning and that’s my goal every week – to win – and the goal at the end of the year is to finish first in the Road to Oman. I would become the first Portuguese winner so that would be great.”
All of the top 40 in the Road to Oman are present in Switzerland as they battle it out for the lion’s share of the €230,000 prize fund.
Jens Dantorp, the second of two Swedish winners in the last three years, will be aiming to become the third player in the tournament’s history to lift the trophy a second time – after Spain’s Carl Suneson (1995, 1999) and Stuart Little (1994, 2001) of England – and he is joined by six other compatriots hoping to continue their nation’s strong form at this event.
Welshman Rhys Davies and Spaniard Nacho Elvira, both two-time winners this season, are the only two players in the field who are dreaming of following in the footsteps of respective 2011 and 2012 ROLEX Trophy winners, Benjamin Hebert and Kristoffer Broberg, who both clinched their third victories of the season here to earn automatic graduation to The Race to Dubai.
Damien Ulrich, who receives an invite as the highest-ranked Swiss player on the Challenge Tour, will be the local favourite, hoping to better his best finish here – fifth place in 2013.