The seventh day of November, is one that Ricardo Gouveia definitely isn’t going to forget for a long time, as he finished off a stunning season with a gutsy victory at the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, which also led him to capturing the Road to Oman and Challenge Tour No. 1 title. His double victory wrote history in the European Challenge tour books, as he finished his year with the highest total earnings for a season ever, pipping Edoardo Molinari by a mere €8,612.
With his 2016 European Tour card safely secured, he was under absolutely no obligation to travel to the other side of the globe to play in the penultimate event of the year, The Foshan Open. But this Portuguese native wasn’t just satisfied with having his full card for next year – he wanted it all!
With the thoughts of other players having the opportunity to scoop up ranking points and gaining ground on him in his bid to capture the Road to Oman title, Gouveia did not take the week off. He went and played this event and finished strongly in a tie for third place.
2015 had been a flawless season for Gouveia: 11 top tens from 17 starts, only one missed cut and a victory in the AEGEAN Airlines Challenge Tour tournament. But could he claim the double and cement his place as the Challenge Tour’s number one player for 2015?
Having shot a +4 (76) in round 3 of the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, staged at the beautiful Almouj golf, The Wave, it looked as if maybe he had lost his momentum. However, he was only 1 shot back from Sweden’s Jens Dantorp. The front nine of the closing round for Gouveia saw him shoot a -2 (36), steady, but he was not where he wanted to be – top of the leaderboard. It was now or never for the Portuguese player if he wanted to complete his dream double.
A gentleman both on and off the course, it was time for him to use his raw desire to win, to dig deep and produce the golf that was needed to claim victory. He got his rhythm back in the middle of his round, when his putter saw red and held 5 putts for five straight birdies, beginning on the 12th hole. He shot seven under par in his closing round, setting the clubhouse target at 13 under, one that could not be matched by another player in the field.
‘I saw on the tenth tee that I was a bit far back and then after birdies on 12, 13 and 14 I saw the leaderboard on 15 and I was one ahead, then one more birdie on 16 put me two ahead at that point. Then on 18 I saw the big leaderboard to see what I needed on the last and just holed a beautiful putt.’
The 2015 Challenge Tour season was purely about Ricardo. He captured the Road to Oman title, NBO Golf Classic Grand Final and the AEGEAN Airlines Challenge tour event. He is now ranked the highest Portuguese golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings at 84th, having catapulted himself 313 spots higher than he was this time last year. He has also tied Edoardo Molinari as the joint highest ranked European Challenge tour player ever.
With a full status 2016 European Tour card in his back pocket and playing the golf of his life, the world is now his oyster. Gouveia has well and truly conquered the European Challenge tour and is on to bigger and better things next year.
We at Hambric Sports Group are so proud of your achievements Ricardo, and cannot wait to see you compete next year on the big stage – The European Tour!