The top 45 players on the Road to Mallorca Rankings will tee it up at T Golf & Country Club as they look to finish inside the top 20 and secure playing privileges on the European Tour for the 2022 season, which Gouveia has already cemented as he currently sits second on the season-long Rankings.
Spain’s Santiago Tarrio currently leads the Rankings following a stand-out season which has included wins at the D+D REAL Czech Challenge and the Challenge de España, as well as seven further top ten finishes, with Gouveia lurking just 7,000 points behind and eyeing the historic double after triumphing in the 2015 Grand Final and finishing the year as Challenge Tour Number One.
There are a plethora of storylines in the offing at T Golf & Country Club, with every player in the 45-man field still able to finish the season in the top 20. Long-hitting Wilco Nienaber, who won the Dimension Data Pro-Am earlier this year, needs to climb a minimum of four places if he is to secure his playing rights for 2022, as he comes into the week in 24th on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, one place ahead of England’s Jonathan Thomson, who arrives in Mallorca in hot form with two runner-up finishes in his last three starts.
Italy’s Matteo Manassero, the youngest winner in European Tour history at the age of 17 years and 188 days, earned a spot in this week’s field courtesy of a third place finish in the Challenge Costa Brava two weeks ago. The 28-year-old will need another strong performance this week if he is to break into the top 20 as he currently sits in 44th position on the Rankings, 18,000 points away from 20th place.
Ricardo Gouveia: “I’m looking forward to it very much. I think this year it’ll be even more special because we have spectators, it’s a different vibe this year.
“Winning the Grand Final and the Rankings for the second time is on my mind but I’m going to focus on the same little goals that I’ve been focussing on throughout the season. Each day there are little things that I need to accomplish to have a chance to get that win.
“I’ll use the experience not only from 2015 but also from the two wins this year and even the bad moments gave me really important lessons, even more than the good moments. I’m going to use everything that I have in my experience so far to try and win this week.”
Santiago Tarrio: “I’m very happy to be at the top of the Rankings at the moment because Ricardo and Marcus (Helligkilde) are coming. They’re very strong at the moment but I’ll try to play my best and after four rounds see if I’m still on top.
“The weather is like it is at home, normal Galician weather. I’m happy with how it is and I’m feeling good. I need to play very well because this course is very tough. The wind is up, the greens are amazing and some of the tee shots are difficult. I’ll try to play good golf. I need to play all my shots and make many putts.
“My caddie, for me, is the best on the Tour. I’m waiting for the call from the top guys to make an offer for my caddie. She’s a better caddie than the player.”
Matteo Manassero: “It was really nice to get to the end of a long season and get the result that you really want. It was extra special because I came into the last two events in the top 70 and managed to get into the top 45 in the last event before the Grand Final.
“I can definitely use it as fuel because it has brought me confidence for sure. The results bring you confidence, but I have been really happy with the work I have done all year and the way I have handled myself on the course. The big picture is the work and process that I have been going through to get to this point.
“I believe I can win. I have been playing well and for a long time and I felt that I could win the tournament in Empordà. In my mind that is huge because I haven’t had the feeling that I could actually win a tournament for a very long time. I will try and go in with the same attitude because I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’m standing in a worse position than the guys in the top 20, but that means I can only move forwards if I play well.
“It would mean everything to return to the European Tour. It’s the ultimate goal. I would divide my career into two parts, and focus on the new work that I have put in. It would be a completely fresh start because although I had the experience of the European Tour from when I was young, it would be completely different if I was to return.”