José hopes to be the special one in Saint Omer

6/12/2013 1:51:31 PM
José-Filipe Lima (Phil Inglis) ()
José-Filipe Lima (Phil Inglis) ()
José-Filipe Lima believes a combination of his red-hot recent form and fond memories of his maiden European Tour win at Aa Saint Omer Golf Club can spur him to victory at the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open presented by Neuflize OBC this week.

While the world’s elite golfers battle it out at the US Open Championship in the USA, a hugely important tournament in the context of many players’ seasons on The European Tour takes place in Northern France.

England’s Simon Dyson and winner of this year’s Tshwane Open, Dawie Van Der Walt, head the field while players from further down the category list will hope to give their season a significant fillip with victory at the halfway point of The 2013 Race to Dubai.

The event, co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour, also gives players from the second tier a golden opportunity to make a huge career breakthrough and Lima of Portugal did exactly that in 2004 when he emerged from the pack on the final day to storm to a second victory in as many weeks - having qualified for the tournament only thanks to a Challenge Tour win the week before.

In only his second year as a professional, it was a huge victory in the career of the France-based player and one of which he has great memories.

“They were great but really strange memories,” said the 31 year old, who represented Portugal on home soil at the 2005 World Cup. “I remember I had to win the week before at the Challenge de España to play here so I just wasn’t expecting it. It was crazy to get straight on to The European Tour with the win.

“I came here really relaxed and just played my game and I was just lucky on the last day to shoot five under in really tough windy conditions.

“Of course, I have had some great memories since but I still love coming back here. It’s a tough course and it suits my game because I have a solid long game and I am solid tee to green.

“My coach is from this area, I have a lot of friends here and it’s not far from where I live in Paris so it’s great to be here.”

Lima currently lies fifth in the Challenge Tour Rankings after an impressive start the season which has included four top tens in seven events, including two top fives as well as a hugely important tied ninth place finish at the lucrative Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI.

Another strong finish in Saint Omer this week would go a long way in securing graduation to The European Tour through the Challenge Tour Rankings, while a win would make him the first multiple winner in the tournament’s history and also earn him a direct route back to the top tier.

“I'm really happy with my season so far but it’s a little disappointing because my game has been so good this year and I haven’t won yet,” he said.

“I know why I haven’t won yet though, because my putting is not good enough but I have been working on that and I am feeling better about it this week.

“It’s been quite solid, every week I'm not far from the leaders but I just need to give myself more chances at the weekend because I have not been close enough after Friday in most weeks.

“I can’t play better than I have been playing recently and my stats have been great so I’m confident I can do well. I have that win in my mind to get straight on to The European Tour.”