Ricardo Gouveia will become the latest in a long line of young amateur stars to turn professional and begin their careers in the paid ranks on the European Challenge Tour when the Portuguese makes his pro debut at this week’s D+D Real Slovakia Challenge.
The 22 year old arrives at the spectacular Penati Golf Resort fresh from the Palmer Cup at Walton Heath, where he played a starring role in Europe’s impressive 18½ – 11½ win over the Unites States of America, winning three points from four.
Now, Gouveia feels he is ready to take on life as a professional, and he believes there is no better place to start than on the Challenge Tour.
“I’ve been dreaming of turning professional since I was a kid,” said the former University of Central Florida. “I cannot wait to start this week.
“Obviously the highlight of my amateur career was the Palmer Cup. That was my goal since I started college. I had five victories in college but the Palmer Cup was still the best experience I’ve had.
“I don’t know what it’s like to play The Ryder Cup but it felt a bit like that. You get treated well and the home support is awesome. I didn’t play my best golf there but I managed my way around the course and got a few wins. It was a great victory for us.
“I always wanted to start my pro career in Europe because my home is here and my coach is from here and since it’s such a solitary life at the beginning I thought it would be best to begin here.
“There will be rough patches as a professional, no doubt, and even players like Brooks Koepka and Peter Uihlein came here and had some tough times and it worked out for them.
“I’m just going to try and learn as much as I can from the very beginning and try and play well. I want to have a good time too and see how it goes.
“I think my game is developing in a good way and I think I will reach my goals in the future, of being in The European Tour and beyond.
“I wasn’t expecting such a great course and such nice facilities here at Penati, especially as it’s quite far out, but it’s really nice and it’s in great shape.”
Being from Vilamoura, the home of a certain Ricardo Santos, Gouveia does not have far to look to find inspiration as he searches for European Tour stardom, and he admits that his compatriot has provided him with a lot of confidence that he can make it at the very top.
“I know Ricardo very well,” he said. “I played at the same course as him so I’ve played a lot with him and he provides a lot of inspiration.
“There are a lot of golf courses in Portugal and it has great weather so it is about time we started producing some big players and Ricardo has given us all a lot to aim for.
“With myself and Pedro (Figueredo) and Goncalo Pinto here this week, it is great to have guys I know around. I know a lot of the players on the Challenge Tour from the amateur game so I know just how good the standard is, but I can’t wait to get started.”
Source: European Tour