The Resurgence of Ricardo Gouveia

By Hugh Carslaw

The fact that Ricardo agreed to do this interview is a bit of a ‘scoop’ for me. I have to thank him, not just for doing it but for being so open and candid with his responses, especially about how he went from the top of his game to losing his tour card.

At the end of 2016, Ricardo Gouveia had completed his first full year on the European Tour. He had finished 54th in the Race to Dubai, represented Portugal at the Olympics and his global ranking had improved to 77 in the world. He had also won the Challenge Tour outright the previous year. All of this pointed towards a long and enviable career at the very highest level in world golf.

However, the years between 2016 and 2022 were not so straightforward. By 2020, his game had deteriorated to such an extent that he had lost his tour card and was contemplating quitting competitive golf altogether. As 2022 begins, Ricardo finds himself able to return to the European Tour having come second on the 2021 Challenge Tour rankings. His game went into a downward spiral but he has been able to turn things around and can now look forward to the coming season with more than a little newfound confidence.

Before looking at this period in his career, it is worth looking back at his formative years. His stellar amateur career will leave the reader in no doubt that here is a guy whose destiny was always to be in the professional golfing ranks.

“My family were originally from Lisbon but when I was young we moved to Quinta do Lago where we stayed on my grandmother’s farm. My father needed a sport which was less extreme, so he substituted bull riding and rugby for golf and that got me started.”

“Most of my junior golf was at Vilamoura and I was very lucky to be coached by Fernando Nogueira, who gave me a good grounding in the basics.”

Ricardo found himself at the University of Central Florida where he played his college golf. He also represented Europe in the 2014 Palmer Cup where he found himself competing alongside Jon Rahm against an American squad which included Bryson DeChambeau.

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is the old adage.

“In starting to look for more distance, the positions I was getting into were the cause of a lack of consistency and my game went downhill quite quickly as a result. In retrospect, had I focused on my wedges and short game, things would have been much different. I worked with several coaches, but I was really struggling, and it was in 2020 that I really was at my lowest ebb. At this time, I met up with Gonçalo Pinto (see September issue). We had known each other for many years, and we agreed to work together. 

“Once we got started, Gonçalo helped me to start to swing more naturally. Instead of getting myself into positions that were not really instinctive, he has got my swing back on plane and the results speak for themselves. This change back to what was close to the ‘old’ swing took a bit of time. I’m one of the few people who look on COVID as a blessing as it allowed me more time to work on my swing in what was obviously a very quiet period.”

Ricardo is looking forward to 2022 with newfound optimism. “I feel very comfortable with my team now, which makes for a great start to the season. I have Gonçalo as my swing coach and I also do some work with David Llewellyn on my putting and short game. I have my mental coach and my physio, so I’m really all set. The only thing missing now is my caddy, but I think that issue will be resolved quite soon. My dad used to be my caddy as an amateur. He was great and got me to take ownership of my decision making. Now I’m back on tour, it would be good to have a pal that I can hang out with – not just someone to give you a yardage.”

Finally, I ask Ricardo what goals has he set himself for 2022? “My first win on tour would be fantastic, to get into the top 20 on the tour would be awesome and, since I’ve never played in a major, that would be incredibly satisfying”.

All of the above are eminently doable so, like me, many will follow Ricardo’s progress with great interest. I sense an inner strength in this incredibly gifted young man. I hope he meets or surpasses his goals. He deserves to succeed.


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