Santos won this event in 2012, becoming the first Portuguese player in European Tour history to win on home soil before going on to make more history by winning the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award.
The 31 year old has been on consistent form this year, missing just two cuts in 11 events, but has not yet managed to challenge for a second European Tour title, coming closest at the dual-ranking NH Collection Open where he finished in a share of tenth place.
Memories of that historic win two years ago, however, are sure to come flooding back for the Vilamoura man and, while he knows the course will play much more difficult this time around in strong winds, he believes he is the right frame of mind to succeed on the stunning Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra.
“For me it’s always an exciting week,” said the two-time Challenge Tour winner. “I always like to play here in Madeira and I will try my best to have a good week.
“I have great memories on this course, not only because of my win in 2012 but also because I came here as an amateur and played well too. I know the course very well.
“The big difference this year is the wind. It’s very strong this year but the course is in a similar shape. It’s dry like it was in 2012 – it was wetter last year – but I think the wind will make it a real challenge. If the wind stays up the scores will be higher, for sure.
“I feel pretty good going into the week. I played very well in the last three events, really solid, so I hope I can keep it that way. Of course, if I won again it would be very special for me and the Portuguese people.”
Lima, meanwhile, was a Challenge Tour player when he played the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI last year and, with a percentage of the price money going towards the Rankings on the second tier, his tied ninth finish was one of the most significant cheques of his 2013 campaign.
He subsequently went on to finish second on the Rankings after an incredible consistent year, earning his card for The 2014 Race to Dubai, and the32 year old is also hoping he can double his European Tour title count this week, his only previous victory coming ten years ago in Saint Omer.
“It’s a big week of course because it’s my country,” said Lima, also a two-time Challenge Tour winner. “I'm feeling good and I like this course.
“I'm also feeling very comfortable because I like playing in the wind and there is plenty of it here. I played really well in the Pro-Am so that’s a good start to the week!
“For my confidence this could a big week if I do well. I've been making a lot of cuts this year but I'm not doing so well at the weekends so I need to get a strong four rounds and maybe I’ll have some good results coming soon.
“I kept my consistency from last year but I haven’t been going very low because I'm not holing many putts but I changed my putting grip to the ‘claw’ about five months ago and I'm feeling really comfortable with it. I think the putts will drop soon.
“A win is never easy, Felipe Aguilar’s win last week is a perfect example. Anders (Hansen) must have been thinking the win was there for a long time but Aguilar was incredible on the last day, so you never know.”
|T3||GARCIA PINTO, Jordi||ESP||18||-6|