José Filipe Lima will return to the SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC next week to continue a love affair that began in 2004 and endures to this day.
Eight years after falling in love at first sight with the Aa Saint Omer Golf Club in Lumbres, northern France, Lima still considers the unique 6,835 yard par 71 course as his most loyal golfing mistress.
It is no surprise when you look at the Portuguese’s record there. His victory in 2004 “changed my life completely” and then, upon his return to the venue in 2009, he finished second to give his career another kick-start.
Standards may have slipped in 2010 when he finished just inside the top 20, before he missed the halfway cut last year during an injury-ravaged season.
But none of those lows can dampen Lima’s desire to rekindle his affinity next week as he seeks the ultimate prize for every Challenge Tour player in the field: victory and an immediate return to The European Tour.
“I think it’s fair to say that I am in love with St Omer,” smiled Lima as he reflected on the importance of the venue and tournament holds for him. “It is just one of those places that I play well at and love going back to because every time I play there I have a lot of confidence.
“I will never forget my win there in 2004. My main memory of the win is not of any shots I played though. It is strange, but every time I think about that day, I remember being on the phone watching Alessandro Tadini play the last hole. He had a two foot putt to make a play-off with me and he missed it.
“When the putt missed I realised I had won and it was a very emotional moment. I didn’t wish any bad luck on Alessandro – you never want guys to miss – but I was so happy at that moment because it really was a victory that changed my life and career.
“I had actually won seven days earlier on the Challenge Tour and if I hadn’t won that event then I wouldn’t have even got into St Omer. That was one of the biggest weeks of my life. I went from a really low Challenge Tour player to The European Tour in seven days. It was unbelievable.”
Lima feels ready to reignite his career again with more St Omer success.
“I am obviously looking forward to next week,” he said. “I always look forward to going there because I know the course so well, I putt well on the greens and generally just take a lot confidence to the course there.
“I am playing well at the moment and fully fit after a terrible season with injuries last year. I feel ready to win again and where better to start than St Omer?”