After deposing Brooks Koepka from the top of the European Challenge Tour Rankings for the first time since May, Andrea Pavan is relishing the opportunity to maintain his position at the summit and end the season as Number One.
The Italian came agonisingly close to earning that title in his rookie Challenge Tour season in 2011, but even a win at the Grand Final was not enough to overthrow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who finished runner-up to Pavan in the season-ending event.
The Roman has had another superb campaign this time out, winning twice before moving to the top of the Rankings with a tied seventh finish at the lucrative Kazakhstan Open last week, where Sweden’s Johan Carlsson claimed his maiden title.
Pavan is delighted with how his 2013 campaign has gone after losing his European Tour card last year, and he now wants to seal the deal with a victory in the final three events of the season, beginning with The Foshan Open in China in three weeks.
“Being the Challenge Tour Number One is definitely something that is on my mind throughout the season,” said the 24 year old. “Brooks didn’t play much but he made quite a start so if I can keep playing like this, hopefully I can do the same as him and win another one.
“Brooks was so far ahead and he’s such a good player that everybody was kind of happy he was gone after the third win! I was certainly happy. I came close in Scotland but he played really well there to win his third one.
“This kind of situation better prepares me to play under pressure because next year it will be different so you if you play under pressure week-in, week-out you get used to it. If you’re playing to win or keep your card or whatever, it’s all a learning process and I think it’s very important in golf to have as much of that as you can.”
Pavan entered the 2012 European Tour season full of confidence following his victory on home soil in the Challenge Tour finale, but finished 158th in The Race to Dubai after making only eight cuts, his best finish tied 14th at the Avantha Masters.
But he believes he is more ready now for the top tier than he has ever been, after an incredibly consistent Challenge Tour season thus far which has yielded only two missed cuts in 20 events.
“Last year my game wasn’t very good but my head definitely was not in the right place,” he said. “I wasn’t scoring early on and I was trying to change a few things and I wasn’t patient enough.
“I didn’t accept that I wasn’t playing well and then I was forcing it and things don’t go your way if you do that.
“This year I just settled back a bit and tried to accept where my game is at. I'm an aggressive player generally and if I feel like going for it, I’ll go for it, but sometimes it’s a matter of being smart too and just playing percentages.
“I try to play smart golf now. You cannot fire at every pin and always see the perfect shot. Sometimes when you get close then you can fire at it and when you play well you can be more aggressive.”
Regarding the possibility of earning automatic promotion to The European Tour before the season’s end with one more victory, Pavan said: “That would be lovely, but it’s hard to control winning. If you’re in that position as often as you can then you are likely to come out on top once.
“I am pretty tired after the last few weeks, winning and then being in contention the following week so I couldn’t get it going in Kazakhstan properly and get up there, although I got a good finish in the end.
“There are still three big tournaments left and in the Grand Final anything can happen, but I feel my game is really solid at the moment. I certainly can’t complain about the last few weeks I have had.”