The Argentinian joins a strong field at Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra, which includes seven other past winners of the event, as he goes in search of a second European Tour victory.The first came at Porto Santo Golfe in just his sixth European Tour start as the Cordoba native fulfilled the potential he showed in his rookie season on the Challenge Tour the previous year, when he won twice en route to a fifth place finish in the 2008 Rankings.
“I am really looking forward to going back,” he said. “For the few years after winning it I was focussing on Wentworth at that time of the year, but now I cannot wait to go back.“It’s a different course and I’ve never played this one before, but it’s the Portuguese air and that’s been good to me before so it should be fun.”
Goya vividly remembers the final day tension from four years ago when Scot Callum Macaulay provided a late scare courtesy of a flurry of birdies before finishing a shot back.“There were nerves alright,” said Goya, whose girlfriend is Scottish Ladies European Tour golfer Carly Booth. “Down the stretch I missed a couple of drives and there was a lot of pressure.
“It was only my fourth tournament in my first year on Tour but on my sixth or seventh hole I had a big putt and holed it which gave me a lot of confidence, and it was great to go on and win.”While he has struggled to replicate the form he produced to enter the European Tour winners’ circle in Madeira, Goya is exercising patience and feels he is close to returning to his best.
“I was playing well and coming from the Challenge Tour to The European Tour was a whole new experience and I was just going for it,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking too much about it.“I made a lot of changes after that though and I thought a lot of change might be a good thing, but I was trying to change too many things.
“I am just working very hard now. Sometimes it just clicks or you just get through a tough patch and you start playing well so I’m just trying to stick with it.”
Ricardo Santos, meanwhile, will defend the title he won last year, a victory which helped earn him the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award.
The Vilamoura native became the first Portuguese to win on home soil and is sure to receive a hero’s reception on his return this year.Alastair Forsyth (2008), Daniel Vancsik (2007), Robert-Jan Derksen (2005), Bradley Dredge (2003), Niclas Fasth (2000) and Jarmo Sandelin (1996) are the other former champions who will be looking to add to their trophy haul at Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra.