The Challenge Tour has long been a breeding ground for golf’s future stars, and the 2013 season is proving no different with a wealth of young talent enjoying success.
The latest player billed as one to watch is Portugal’s Pedro Figeuiredo, a 22 year old who recently graduated from UCLA in America, and who has enjoyed a sparkling amateur career.
Victories in the British Boys’ Championship, the Portuguese and Irish Amateur Opens, as well as three college tournaments in the United States, adorn Figeuiredo’s CV, and he has also represented Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup and Jacques Léglise Trophy.
Having turned professional this summer, Figeuiredo – or ‘Figgy’ as he is widely known – is hoping to make an impact in the Challenge Tour events for which he has received invitations, before preparing for the European Tour Qualifying School in November.
“In the future I would like to become a complete professional golfer playing worldwide,” he said. “My goal is ultimately to get into the world’s top 50, which will allow me to play against the best players in the best tournaments.
“But I would rather live in the present and understand that there is a long way to go before I get there. In the short term, my primary focus is on the Challenge Tour which I believe is one of the best ways to sharpen your game which will help me improve and become the player I know I can be.”
His last appearance as an amateur came in last week’s Amateur Team Championships in Denmark, and this week he will tee it up in the Mugello Tuscany Open in Italy.
“I wanted the European Team Championship to be my last tournament as an amateur,” he said. “Not only did we have a great national team, but I also wanted to do it as a way to thank the Portuguese Golf Federation, the technical staff and my friends in the team for everything they have done for me in the last few years.”
Figueiredo is not short of inspiration from other young professionals paving their way on the Challenge Tour. This season 23 year old American Brooks Koepka, with whom he shares a management company, Hambric Sports Group, has won three times to graduate to The European Tour, and Peter Uihlein, the former world number one amateur, won his first title at the top level.
His fellow Portuguese players have also fared well in recent years, in particular Ricardo Santos, who rose from the Challenge Tour in 2011 and was named The European Tour Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year for 2012 after his stunning victory in Madeira.
"I have followed the career of Ricardo very closely and how he has progressed from the Challenge Tour to the European Tour,” Figeuiredo continued. “His ascent in European golf gives me great confidence and I look forward to representing Portugal with him and the other Portuguese players out on Tour.”
Figueiredo will play in a number of Challenge Tour events before the end of the season, and will also compete in the lucrative Portugal Masters at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura from October 10-13.
Rocky Hambric, CEO of Hambric Sports Group, said: "We are very excited about representing Pedro. He has the potential to go all the way and be one of the best players in the world. We have no doubt that he will carry the fine form he has shown throughout his amateur career into his professional career."