Adrian Otaegui (Getty Images)
With José-Maria Olazábal acting as his mentor, it is perhaps not surprising that Adrian Otaegui enjoyed huge success during his amateur days.
The young Spaniard, who is making his professional debut at this week’s Credit Suisse Challenge, won 11 titles in a glittering amateur career, including last year’s Boys Amateur Championship at Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club, in Scotland.
Soon after his 4&3 triumph over Germany’s Max Rotluff, Otaegui picked up the phone to give the good news to Olazábal, whose name had been etched on the same trophy back in 1983.
The elder man was rightly proud of his young charge’s achievement and congratulated him in person the next time their paths crossed at their local golf club in the seaside resort of Fuenterrabia, located some 15 miles to the east of Otaegui’s birthplace of San Sebastián.
Otaegui has since made the short move over the French border to Biarritz, but stays in regular contact with his idol and mentor.
He said: “I know José-Maria well, because we come from the same town. I often play practice rounds with him during the winter, and he helps me out with lots of advice. He’s a great player and a great guy too, so I’m very lucky to know him. I looked up to him when I was growing up, and if I can be half as good as him, I’ll be very happy.”
Otaegui clearly has some way to go before he can hope to emulate the achievements of Olazábal and those of his close friend, the late, great Seve Ballesteros, but so far the omens are good.
On his European Tour debut at the Iberdorla Open in May, Otaegui finished in a tie for 16th place alongside Argentina’s Rafael Echenique, European Tour champion Thomas Levet of France and England’s Danny Willett.
The performance proved both to himself and the wider world that he could more than hold his own in such elevated company, and he will now go in search of a more permanent place on the top table through the Challenge Tour.
The 18 year old, who represented Europe alongside his friend Matteo Manassero at the 2008 Junior Ryder Cup, said: “I’m very grateful for the chance to play my first professional tournament on the Challenge Tour, and hopefully I can play well and make a good start to my pro career. The time just felt right to turn professional. I feel like I’m playing well enough to compete out here, and now that I have some invitations lined up, hopefully I can gain more experience.
“My goal this year is just to play as well as I can in the events I get invitations to, and hopefully get a next season category for next season on the Challenge Tour, or maybe even on The European Tour. I will go to the Qualifying School later in the year, and if I play well then anything is possible.”