The cream of the 2013 Challenge Tour crop descend upon the splendid Al Badia Golf Club by InterContinental this week as they battle it out for the 15 European Tour cards on offer at the end of the grand finale, which is taking place in the United Arab Emirates city for the first time.
One man who is certain of his place in The 2014 Race to Dubai is Pavan, after a superb season which has yielded two wins, five more top ten finishes and just two missed cuts thus far.
The 24 year old currently sits atop the Challenge Tour Rankings heading into the season-ender, a tournament he won two years ago in his native Italy, and he is hoping to top off what he thinks could be a career-defining year by being crowned Number One.
“To finish the Rankings as Number One would be great,” said the Roman. “It’s something I can control if I play well and hopefully I can do that. Then that will take care of it but if somebody goes on and plays better than me, I can’t do anything about it. If I know that I put everything into it then I’ll be satisfied.
“If someone told me I was number one going into Grand Final at the start of the season I don’t know if I would have believed them.
“Towards the end of last year I was struggling with my confidence. It was very disappointing but I learned from it and got back, worked hard in the winter and got hungry again to get good results and get consistent again.
“My win in the Grand Final in 2011 was certainly one of the greatest moments of my career, it was huge, but this year in general and the two wins I had were quite big.
“This year has felt better than two years ago. In the first season, you come out and there is less pressure, but when you gain your card and fall back it can get harder for you.
“I was proud I could make a good comeback, it’s not easy to get back up and I showed that I can do it. It gives me a lot of confidence, especially because I do get down on myself sometimes so I need to believe in myself a bit more.”
Pavan will certainly be the centre of attention this week as he looks to better his second place finish in the Rankings in 2011 but he insists it will be no lap of honour to celebrate his imminent return to The European Tour and he comes to Al Badia confident of becoming the first multiple winner of the Challenge Tour’s grand finale.
“It’s nice to get attention, it means you’re playing well but obviously when you’re out on the golf course you try to play well and play to win and go as low as you can,” he said. “I try not to relax knowing that I have my card because if I play without ambitions then I might as well not tee it up.
“You’ve got to go out and play for something, you can play as relaxed as you want but if you don’t have anything to play for then there is no point. I’d rather play with some pressure and play for something. Just to play doesn’t do much for me.
“Of course I want to finish the season off well and if I do the right things hopefully the results will come.”
While the race for the prestigious title of Challenge Tour Number One might catch many an eye, there is a lot more at stake for the majority of the field at the Dubai Festival City venue this week.
At the beginning of the season, every Challenge Tour player tees it up with one dream in mind – claiming one of the prized 15 cards for The European Tour. Now, it all boils down to one week and who has the guts, the unyielding ambition and the game to seal the deal when it matters most.
Nacho Elvira, winner of The Foshan Open in China two weeks ago, lies in 15th place on €72,830 and with a winner’s prize of €56,650 on offer this week, every player down to 45th placed Julien Guerrier (currently on €36,110) knows a win would be enough to fulfil their European Tour dream.
Every man has a chance and that point was emphasised in dramatic fashion last season when Englishman James Busby arrived to the Grand Final as the last man in the field, in 45th spot.
He launched a late assault on the leaderboard and in one afternoon, his career was turned upside down as a tied runner-up finish earned him an unlikely rookie season on The European Tour.