Ricardo Gouveia stormed to a second European Challenge Tour title at the AEGEAN Airlines Challenge Tour by Hartl Resort courtesy of a flawless final day performance which earned the Portuguese a four-stroke victory on the Beckenbauer Course in Bad Griesbach.
The 26 year old began the day two shots off the lead set by South African Dean Burmester but a four under par 67 moved him to 15 under for the tournament, earning a first title of a remarkably consistent 2015 season and moving him to second in the Road to Oman Rankings.
The stocky Faro native has been nothing short of a sensation since making his professional debut on the European Challenge Tour almost exactly one year ago, following a glittering amateur career in the American collegiate ranks.
His maiden victory came in Rome after just seven appearances and, while it was not enough to earn graduation to The European Tour at the conclusion of the 2014 season, he has returned this year an even bigger force to be reckoned with.
Gouveia is the only player in the top 15 to have made it to the weekend in every event he has played thus far and seven top 20 finishes in eight events suggested it was only a matter of time before a second career title adorned his trophy cabinet.
He did it in nerveless fashion and he was delighted to double his win tally on Europe’s top developmental tour.
“It feels great to win again on this very competitive tour,” said Gouveia, who had his brother Thomas on the bag all week. “To win once is really good but to win twice is even better because it proves that I have the capability to win more than once. I’m just really happy.
”I had a number in my head. I thought 16 under would be good enough so I focussed on my own goals with that target in my head. I reached 15 and it was enough.
“My first victory, I really needed a good result. It was my last invite and I was way down the Rankings so I needed something. To get a win that week changed a lot and then I almost made it to The European Tour through Qualifying School.
“This one is also special because I’ve been playing really well. I just hadn’t dropped the putts and this week I was able to capitalise on that.
“I was really disappointed after Q-School but my dad just told me to take the positives from it and build my game for The European Tour. I think it may have been too soon to take that step. I think it was great that I didn’t go straight there.”
Gouveia is one of a number of young rising stars emerging from Portugal and, while they have seen the likes of Ricardo Santos and José-Filipe Lima triumph on The European Tour, the country has never seen a single player break into the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
The former University of Central Florida student is hoping to change all of that and he is confident that he has the ability and mental fortitude to reach the highest echelons of the game and become the leading light in Portuguese golf.
“My goal is to be one of the top players in the world and being the best Portuguese player will sort itself after that,” he said. “My goals are global and if I keep playing like this I will reach my long-term goals.
“Portugal has great golfing conditions weather-wise, the courses are great and everything is great. We just need someone to be playing in the top of the golfing world so the kids can look at them and push through themselves.
“Myself, Pedro Figueredo, Ricardo Santos, José-Filipe Lima and many others are on the right track to build that mentality in Portugal.”
Burmester had gained a three-shot advantage early on in a dramatic final day but a triple-bogey at the par four fifth proved his undoing and the 26 year old had to settle for outright second place on 11 under after a two over 73. He did, however, climb 122 places in the Road to Oman to 26th.
Sebastian Gros, meanwhile, also had reason to celebrate despite a two over par final round 73 as the Frenchman moved to the top of the Rankings courtesy of a tied third place finish on ten under, alongside Dane Jeff Winther (69).