Velasco bidding to mimic Molinari

11/2/2010 11:40:05 AM
Challenge Tour Number One, Alvaro Velasco (Phil Inglis)
Challenge Tour Number One, Alvaro Velasco (Phil Inglis)

Ask Michael Lorenzo-Vera’s coach Jean Lamaison who possesses the smoothest, silkiest putting stroke in the game, and he is quick to namecheck Alvaro Velasco.

Given that golfers are said to “drive for show and putt for dough”, it is therefore perhaps not surprising that Velasco earned more than any other player on the Challenge Tour this season. 

Like Lorenzo-Vera before him in 2007, the Spaniard has just graduated to The European Tour as the Challenge Tour Number One – but it is another Rankings winner he is keen to mimic most: a certain Edoardo Molinari.

Whilst Velasco was ultimately unable to match Molinari’s extraordinary consistency en route to topping the Rankings, he did manage to emulate the Italian’s two victories.

The first arrived on home soil – for Molinari at the 2009 Piemonte Open, read Velasco at this year’s Fred Olsen Challenge de España – whilst the other came at the money-spinning Kazakhstan Open, where his 21 under par aggregate winning total was one shot lower than Molinari’s mark.

Thus, the omens are good for Velasco as he goes in search of his maiden European Tour victory in the short term, and a place in the top 50 of the Official Golf World Ranking in the longer term.

In light of the fact that that he currently occupies 218th place it will be a stiff task but, given that Molinari – currently the World Number 16 – started last year down in 653rd, by no means an impossible one.

Velasco said: “Finishing on top of the Rankings was definitely the best achievement of my career so far, and hopefully I can build on it next year. I won in Kazakhstan like Edoardo – at the start of the week his 20 under par winning score didn’t seem like a realistic target, so to beat it by one shot shows how well I must’ve played, which obviously gave me a lot of confidence.

"And now I’ve won the Rankings like him, so it’s an honour to follow such a great player. I’ve obviously still got a long way to go to reach his level, but my goal is to win on The European Tour and climb into the top 50 of the world.”

Given how well he played this term – on top of his two victories, Velasco finished in the top five on three further occasions – it almost defies logic that, as Molinari had the season before his triumph, the 29 year old relinquished his playing privileges on The European Tour last year.

Velasco finished 189th in The 2009 Race to Dubai with earnings of €73,673, having made just eight cuts all season. But instead of feeling despondent he hit the practice range with renewed vigour, and his hard work and determination have paid off in spectacular fashion.  

He said: “The consistency of my all-round game has definitely improved this year, but I still need to keep improving every year if I am to achieve my goals. In the past every part of my game has been working at some point of the season, but this year everything managed to come together at the same time.

"I worked especially hard on my short game over the winter because my chipping has sometimes let me down in the past, particularly last season. But I’ve made some big improvements in that area of my game, and now it’s much stronger.

“I’m really looking forward to next season now – to win twice on the Challenge Tour and then finish top of the Rankings was more than I could’ve dreamed of at the start of the year.

"I’m going to play in South Africa in December, and hopefully I can get off to a god start. I feel that my game is good enough to win on the main Tour. Obviously the first goal is just to keep my card, but once that’s secure I want to win – that’s what everyone on The European Tour is playing for.

“But first of all I’m going to have a rest back home in Barcelona, and not touch the clubs for a week or two. Then I’ll start practising again, and getting ready for the new season. I already feel excited about being back on the main Tour, and I can’t wait for the new season to start.

"It’s going to be a lot of fun to be playing alongside some of the best players in the world, as well as some of my good friends like Alvaro Quiros and Pablo Martin. European golf is so strong at the moment, so I want to be a part of it.”