Portuguese duo of Ricardo Gouveia, Jose Joia has boosted Knights
Published: Monday, May 28, 2012
Updated: Monday, May 28, 2012 17:05
More than 4,000 miles from Orlando, the members of two households will be glued to their computers starting Tuesday, waiting for live updates, probably clicking refresh a few times, too.
There, in Almancil and Lagoa, two towns in Portugal, the families of Ricardo Gouveia and Jose Joia will anxiously cheer on the two sophomores. Gouveia and Joia, who together came from Portugal to America to play college golf, first for Lynn University and now for the No. 22 UCF Knights, will be playing at the historic Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., in the NCAA Championship.
In what is arguably the biggest tournament of their young careers, much is uncertain. There is one certainty, though: Both golfers can probably anticipate receiving an international call sometime after they walk off the 18th green.
After all, there’s a precedent for it.
“My father called me right after [the Stanford Regional],” Gouveia said. “Every tournament, they are on their computer. Every time, [they] check the scores.”
Joia, who tied for eighth at the Stanford Regional, says his family is no different, which is just one of the things the two golfers, who have known each other for more than five years since playing for the same club in Portugal, have in common.
Both families have been incredibly supportive, recognizing the unique opportunity for the two to play in America. And, together as teammates, the two sophomores have made the transition from the significantly smaller Lynn University to the constantly growing entity that is UCF.
“It was a little bit tough in the beginning; we came from a small school,” Gouveia said. “It was like 4,000 [students] to a 56,000 [student] school; it was a big change.”
But like many things in life, the transition was made easier by having a familiar face around.
“It’s great [being able to come to UCF together],” Joia said. “We just help each other, whenever we need. … [UCF] needed two players, so everything worked out perfectly.
“We are very lucky to be here.”
And, as evidenced by stellar play of the duo, UCF is lucky to have them.
The two Portuguese golfers weren’t just filling roster spots for any program. The Knights have won three of the last four Conference USA championships and have been to NCAA Regionals for six straight years. Luckily for head coach Bryce Wallor, Gouveia and Joia were more than up to the challenge.
“Having these two guys step in, it immediately lifted our program,” Wallor said. “They’re team guys. … They have a great rapport with their teammates.”
They’re also experienced. Gouveia and Joia are no strangers to international play, meaning they have experience playing on a big stage, experience that will be valuable come Tuesday.
“I was 12 when I started playing international tournaments,” Gouveia said. “It got me more experience, [and made me] more mature.”
It’s a maturity that is a consistent theme with the Knights, led by senior Brad Schneider. Another theme is talent, a quality that has UCF poised to make a run at a national title.
“We’ve got some local talent, we’ve got some international talent, we’ve got some real special players,” Wallor said. “I certainly think we have enough talent to do a good job [at nationals].”
The Knights and the rest of the field will start play on Tuesday with three rounds of stroke play running through Thursday. UCF is matched with Georgia and Iowa for stroke play. Following the conclusion of play Thursday, the top eight teams will advance to match play, with the championship being decided on Sunday.
If the Knights are going to make a run, Gouveia and Joia will certainly have to do their parts. It’s the kind of expectations the two say they have come to embrace, a culture of expectation that will hopefully see the team playing on into the weekend.
“If we have high expectations, that means we have a good team every year,” Joia said. “Hole-by-hole, shot-by-shot, we’ll just have to do our thing.”