Adrián Otaegui is aiming to keep the Spanish success rolling as the DP World Tour rounds off back to back events in his homeland with the inaugural Catalunya Championship.
The three-time DP World Tour winner is in a rich vein of form, with three top fives this season including a runner up finish behind compatriot Pablo Larrazábal at last week’s ISPS HANDA Championship in Spain.
Otaegui was amongst the players to sing the praises of this week’s venue, PGA Catalunya Golf and Wellness, as the Tour returns to the renowned Stadium Course for the first time since the 2014 Open de Espana. The 29 year old has fond memories of the Girona layout, which also hosted Qualifying School Final Stage from 2008-16, emerging as joint winner in 2015.
The field at the Catalunya Championship will be among the first professionals to tee it up at the European Tour Destination venue since the Stadium Course underwent a sustainability-focused €1million upgrade.
The changes were welcomed by victorious 2018 European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn, who won the fourth of his 15 DP World Tour titles here at the 1999 Sarazen World Open, the first Tour event to be held at PGA Catalunya. The Dane admits he was impressed by the facilities back then and was pleased to see further positive changes since his victory 23 years ago.
Fittingly, the Catalunya Championship also marks the Tour’s return to the city where its first official event, the 1972 Open de España, was held. As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations Antonio Garrido, winner of that historic inaugural event, will hit a ceremonial tee shot before the first round begins on Thursday.
Adrian Otaegui: Last week was a very good week for me from the first day to the last day. I wanted to win – I always want to win – but I’m very happy with the way I played. I think I really did my job on Sunday as well. I played well, I gave myself a good opportunity. Hats off to Pablo for his brilliant last round.
There are some very good tournaments coming up, starting with this week. I really love the golf course. I’ve played here many times and played well. It’s one of my favourite golf courses in Spain for sure.
I haven’t played in a long time, there have been a few changes and from what I have seen the conditions are very good. The rough is thick, the greens are soft – hopefully they will dry up a bit over the week – but it’s just a fantastic design, a fantastic course.
I think I need to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Playing well from tee to green will help this week because the rough is thick and hitting from the fairways will give you more opportunities to attack the pins. Putting and chipping will be the key as in every other week. But being accurate off the tee will be very important.
Thomas Bjørn: It’s so long ago now (winning the Sarazen World Open in 1999) it’s hard to believe. I’ve got a daughter who was born in 1999 and I look at how old she is and what we’ve been through since. It’s a long time ago, but this is an excellent place. It was an excellent place back then and obviously the golf course has grown, the facilities, the properties, it’s just turned into a magnificent place. It’s a special place for the Tour, we used to have Q School here, a lot of guys have good memories coming back here, and some maybe not so good memories.
I look back at that win, I remember I was in a bit of a state with my golf, not playing particularly well. I just wanted to build some confidence on the golf course, I took a liking to the place and got into it, got the head down. It was a tough battle over the last few holes.
When you walk on a golf course when you last played it so long ago it takes a bit of time to remember all the holes. The course is excellent. This is what we want to see, we want to see some rough, we want to see it being difficult. We want to put the emphasis back on hitting fairways and greens, playing the game the way it should be played. Big credit to our Tour staff and the people who work at the golf clubs the last two weeks.
Adri Arnaus: It’s lovely when (friends and family) get to come and show off their shirts and hats. It makes me proud. I always keep them in mind no matter where, but when they are present they make you feel that they are there, so it’s great (playing at home).
I’ve had quite a good start to the season. You always want to finish it off at the weekend here and there, but the season is very long and a few things I have been working on are showing on the course. I’m super excited to keep doing things the right way and have a few chances over the summer.
This place, I’ve always looked up to playing here on the DP World Tour. I remember I think in 2009 as a kid I came here to watch the Spanish Open. I have very good memories. Now I have a little apartment in Girona, it’s great to come here to practice. Seeing the course evolve and get as good as it is at this point, it’s just so cool to have it very close to us. Seems like it will be a good set up for all of us.
Laurie Canter: I was a bit in and out (last week). On Friday I played pretty well and got myself a little bit into the tournament, half a chance. On Saturday I played solid up to when we stopped and restarted in the heavy wind. I three putted four of my last seven holes to be a long way back but played nice in the last round. Feel like my game is moving in a good direction. I’ve seen signs in all departments just hasn’t quite clicked and had a big week as yet. I don’t feel miles away and last week was a step forward.
The whole venue is amazing. I remember the first time I came here, I had been playing on the EuroPro Tour. I don’t mean this disrespectfully at all, but to go from that kind of venue and set up and course condition to out here was a big jump.
Even playing nine holes today, as a venue I’m not sure we go to many places that are better than this. I think it’s an amazing course, it tests every part of you. In that respect, they do everything well here. As players we are lucky to come here, I hope we come back here a lot because the whole set up, the hotels, the golf course and where it’s positioned in Europe is awesome, I love it.