Ahead of the Porsche European Open, Adrián Otaegui writes this week’s Player Blog. After a strong season, which included victory at the Belgian Knockout in May, the Spaniard discusses the challenge of maintaining consistency while travelling the world.
One of the keys to consistency is to enjoy the game. Of course, when you play well you enjoy everything more than when you’re struggling. It’s important to remember that the results are not always in your hand; you can play well, but other guys can play well, too. You might not win, but if you feel that you’re doing what you want on the course, if you feel calm and you realise that your game is dependant on you, that’s when you can really enjoy it.
I felt in control all week when I won the Belgian Knockout. I qualified for the knockout stage in the top ten, so I was playing well, and it helped that I also really liked the course. Although we were playing one v one, it was in stroke play format, so I was playing against myself as well. I finished every match under par, so I was trying to make my opponents play well to beat me. It was a really great week in Antwerp and the tournament was a lot of fun. As an amateur I used to play a lot of match play but I’ve only played a couple of traditional match play events since I’ve been a professional, including winning last year’s Paul Lawrie Match Play. I like the fight of playing against a direct opponent. There is a psychological element to it, which I enjoy.
There was a lot of travelling during my strong period
. I finished inside the top 20 for six events running. We played in the Middle East in Oman and Qatar, then in Spain and Morocco before heading over to China and finishing with Belgium. Of course, with a lot of travel comes jet-lag, but I don’t really mind travelling. It’s easier from the summer onwards when all the events are one or two-hour flights. You just get used to it, although you have to adapt to different courses with different weather. Keeping your fitness up helps you to recover from the long journeys. There are small details like that which help you to recover properly and be consistent in your play.
This year one of my targets was to find time to keep fit every day
. During tournaments it’s not easy. Sometimes you finish late and you’re tired, or you need to rest. It’s not about doing a lot one day and then nothing the next day. It’s about having a routine and doing a little bit every day. Honestly, I’m trying and it’s not easy! When you finish your practice round, or you finish your round late with an early tee time the next day, you just want some rest or something to eat.
I like going for a run every morning at a tournament. The only time I don’t do it is if I’m playing very, very early. Otherwise I’ll go for a 30 minute run outside, rather than inside in the gym. Right now I’m doing lots of hip mobility exercises and work with my body like push-ups and pull-ups. I tend not to do too many weights.
Visualising shots is key to my game.
When I’m facing a shot, I always imagine myself hitting it before I think about approaching it. I’ll think about areas I want to hit or areas to avoid. It’s a constant part of my pre-shot routine. Of course, it’s easier to do when you’re swinging the club well and you won’t always get the result, but if you visualise your shot I think you’ll find that you get what you want more times than not.
My caddie, Ian, plays a huge role
. I’ve been working with him for almost three years now. We have a great relationship and he knows what I need. Sometimes it’s not much, but when I ask his opinion he’s always there to give it to me. We have a good rapport and understand each other well and when you spend so much time with someone that’s key.
Keeping motivated is easy – it’s all about your dream.
If you have a target, that’s all the motivation you need. You use that in training and practice as well as when you step on the course. I don’t read any motivational books or anything like that, but when I do read I prefer biographies to get a sense of something real about another person; I think you can learn from that. For me, though, if you have a dream, that can be all the inspiration you need.
Even when I’m not playing I’ve always got my goal in mind, but I can still relax sometimes! When I have a week off, I like to get involved with other outdoor sports. I love cycling, kayaking or skiing in the winter. When I go kayaking in the sea, you’re on your own and it clears your head. As a golfer, I think it’s important to get out of your day-to-day routine and rest your mind.
Jose María Olazábal is someone I speak to every now and then
. Right now, he’s playing a lot in the United States, so I don’t see him often. I saw him at a couple of tournaments over here in Europe at the BMW International Open and the Open de France recently, and I played with him a couple of times last winter when we were both at home. I’m just focussed on my thing and he’s focussed on his, but I know I can always ask him something anytime if I have a question.
It’s been six years since I started on the tour, so there has been a change in me.
Part of it is because I was only 19 and now I’m 25, so there have been a lot of changes naturally in that time. I still have the same dreams and motivations, but I just feel I know the world I’m in a lot better. I understand how tournaments work now, as well as what’s important and what’s not. When I first came on tour I’d spend a lot of time on the course before an event, but now I spend less time and once I finish practising I go away and take my mind off it. These are things you learn with experience.
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