Ricardo Gouveia will celebrate a double return at next week’s Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort, back both in his home country and back at a European Challenge Tour event for the first time since topping the Road to Oman in 2015.
The Portuguese’s last Challenge Tour outing resulted in a third career victory as he dramatically came from behind on the final day of the season to triumph at the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final and secure the top spot in the Rankings.
Now a European Tour member, Gouveia will tee it up in the dual-ranking event in the Algarve, with points and prize money counting both in the Race to Dubai and on the Road to Oman.
Portugal has not hosted a Challenge Tour event since the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI in 2015 and the 25 year old recognises the importance of the tournament for his talented up-and-coming compatriots.
“It’s very important for Portugal,” he said. “After we lost the tournament in Madeira we struggled for a couple of years so it’s good to have our Open back on the schedule, especially for a lot of the Challenge Tour guys who will get invites and opportunities to play out there.
“It’s great for the Challenge Tour because it’s going to be one of the biggest events of the year for them, one of their Majors, and the fact that it’s in Portugal just makes it a bit more special for me.”
Gouveia’s 2015 will live long in the memory as he broke the record for the most prize money won in a single season, amassing 12 top tens, including two victories and five further top fives, in 18 events to earn €251,592 and beat Edoardo Molinari’s previous best mark.
A solid first campaign as a European Tour player last season picked up steam towards the year’s end, with a career-best result of tied third at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player helping him to 54th place in the 2016 Race to Dubai.
Not even 18 months since leaving its ranks, the influence of the Challenge Tour is still strong for Gouveia, with fond memories of his Road to Oman successes punctuating his conversation.
“The Challenge Tour was key for me,” he said. “I just came out of college with nothing, just starting with invites, and luckily for me I won the seventh tournament I played that first season and earned a full card for the following year.
“Then in 2015 I played really well so it was very important for me to come out onto the European Tour with the Road to Oman win under my belt.”
Though now based in London, Gouveia retains close links with his homeland and is familiar with next week’s surroundings of Morgado Golf Resort.“I’ve played Morgado a lot of times,” he said. “It used to be a bit short and quite open but I heard they’ve added a few more tees to the course so it’s going to be more challenging, and if the wind blows it’s really going to be a good test for all the golfers.”