Dream season for Ricardo Gouveia can be capped by graduation and Road to Oman riches

Ricardo Gouveia already has his place in next season's European Tour, and he's already taking in his future surroundings in Dubai ahead of the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final in Muscat next week.
Golfer Ricardo Gouveia shown on Monday in Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Antonio Robertson / The National / October 26, 2015
Golfer Ricardo Gouveia shown on Monday in Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Antonio Robertson / The National / October 26, 2015

DUBAI // A little jet-lagged and jaded, Ricardo Gouveia quickly found his second wind at Jumeirah Golf Estates (JGE) on Monday.

Less than 24 hours before, the Portuguese had tied for third at the Foshan Open, the penultimate event on the 2015 Challenge Tour, to move top of the Road to Oman rankings, but his celebrations were cut short since he had to catch a plane from China to Dubai for a press briefing with local media the following morning.

Landing at 5am, he was at JGE’s European Tour Performance Institute a few hours later. Not that it mattered much: Gouveia has already secured graduation to Europe’s main circuit for 2016, meaning next year he will have plenty of time to live the good life. His current surroundings simply underlined that.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about this place, and I know a lot of tour players come here to prepare for the season,” he said, looking around at the state-of-the-art facilities. “It’s just unbelievable and I’m very humbled to be here.

“You see all of this: the gym, the video room, the chipping area, everything is top-notch, like on the European Tour. So it’s a bit different to the Challenge Tour and it’s great to have this opportunity. Hopefully I’ll grab it with both hands.”

Gouveia, 24, is not the only one intent on making the most of it. He is joined at the performance institute this week by some of his Challenge Tour peers, as JGE provides them the chance to use their facilities and acclimatise ahead of next week’s season finale in Oman.

Before taking part in the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final in Muscat, the players will compete in Wednesday’s ICAEW Challenge Tour Pro-Am on the Fire Course, while they will also receive tuition from Jean-Jacques Rivet, the swing biomechanics guru who has worked with several European Tour professionals.

With a victory and 10 other top-10 finishes already this season, Gouveia seems ready for the step up now. Not that he is resting on his laurels: the immediate target is concluding the campaign as Challenge Tour No 1.

“It would mean the world to me,” he says. “It’s been such a great season and to finish it off with a win would be very satisfying. But I’m not really thinking about my good season now. I just want to round it off in Oman and perform well there.”

Gouveia’s nearest competitor in the rankings is Sebastien Gros, one of three rivals seeking to seize the season’s crown in Muscat. Yet the man they chase, leading by €3,980 (Dh16,100), is adamant being front-runner will not affect him.

“There’s always pressure; I’m trying to win an event, so there’s pressure on that,” Gouveia says. “But there’s always pressure when you play golf. If you play without any it means you don’t care. If I win in Oman I know I’m going to be top of the rankings. That’s all the motivation I need.”​

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE

Published: October 26, 2015 04:00 AM

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