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Perez relishing pressure of title defence

Perez relishing pressure of title defence

Victor Perez is enjoying being in the spotlight as he defends a European Tour title for the first time at the 2021 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Victor Perez

A two time European Challenge Tour winner, Perez lifted this trophy two years ago for his maiden European Tour win but was denied the chance to make his defence in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That victory sparked a remarkable run of form as the Frenchman followed a World Golf Championships top five in China with a Rolex Series top five in Turkey and then a Rolex Series runner up finish in Abu Dhabi as 2019 turned to 2020.

Two more Rolex Series top tens would come in 2020 and, after a run to the semi-finals at the 2021 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Perez admits he is relishing thriving in the world's biggest events.

"I've been in that spotlight for quite some time now," he said. "I came up from Challenge Tour and you play your first season and it's kind of just like 'oh, you know, you're playing well' and nobody is really looking.

"I had a very good first year and then went on to the second year and played even better and then all of a sudden I was in the Ryder Cup conversation, I was playing in Majors.

Victor Perez

"There's just more things that happen over time and you start to be under that spotlight where you have a little bit more pressure, which is generally just self-inflicted anyway because, at the end of the day, you always think it's a much bigger deal than it really is, but that's always the case as a player.

"You should enjoy as a player to be a little more under the spotlight anyway because that's how it's going to be when you come into big events and you're in the lead on the final round of a Major - the Saturday night, they are going to always ask you how is it going to feel if you win tomorrow. 

"I think you have to get comfortable early on with those talks and being able to express yourself whichever way makes you feel good in a sense.

"I think it's fun. I think it's great and hopefully I can have the trophy again in four days."

Perez is on familiar ground not only due to his victory but the fact that he practises at St Andrews from his base in Dundee.

You should enjoy as a player to be a little more under the spotlight anyway because that's how it's going to be when you come into big events

The 29-year-old, however, believes that can be a curse as well as a blessing.

"I think being here and having your little inner world - driving your own car, going home every night - I think there's plusses and advantages to that, which is great," he said.

"On the other hand, I would say generally when you travel, wherever the tournament is, it feels very much like a golf tournament. 

"Whereas this week might feel a little bit different because you are home, because everything is so familiar. I drive here every day basically to come practise, so I think it's definitely hard in a sense to differentiate between the two.

"So there's some good to that and there's some bad to that because you might be a little bit too relaxed. But at the same time is being relaxed a bad thing? Time will tell."

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