In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Adrian Otaegui talks about skipping school to meet a local legend, unleashing his golfing gladiator when times are tough, his happiness for friend Pablo Larrazábal and his love for Scotland.
When I was very, very young, maybe four years old, I was in school and the owner of the driving range where I used to go when I was that age rang my dad to say José María Olazábal was on the range. So my dad went into the school and took me out - he probably told the teacher it was something very important - and he took me to the driving range so I could go and sit down behind Olazábal and watch him hit balls. I was only four years old but I still remember that day and Olazábal also remembers that day. After that we became pretty close and I was lucky enough to play in practice with him when I was a teenager, and I feel very lucky to learn from him and spend some time with him. We speak from time to time, we don't speak all the time as he is playing on the Champions Tour now, last time I saw him was during the winter around Christmas time.
I have always played golf. I was almost born with a golf club under my arm. Nobody in my family played golf before but my dad just took me into golf when I was two or three years old. I joined a golf club when I was five and I had lessons with other kids on the weekends on the Saturday. My dad was really the one who took me to practice every day and took me to golf every day so he is the main reason I am playing golf. My dad never played golf himself but he's a mental coach so he worked with a couple of golfers before and some sportsmen. We've always been a sports family.
It has always been my plan and my dream to be a golf professional and be one of the best players in the world. I used to read interviews with other golfers in magazines and watch highlights on the Mondays after tournaments so it has always been my dream and always been what I wanted to do. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I've always wanted to do and to be able to make a living with it. The worst part is probably the travelling and the lost time waiting in the airports but that's the only negative. I feel very lucky and couldn't choose anything better to do with my life.
Pablo Larrazábal is a good friend and when friends win you are happy for them. I play a lot with him on practice rounds and you know you can also win so it gives you some inspiration and some power to fight. I have a very good relationship with the Spanish guys and the French guys because I speak French after living in France as a kid. I have a good relationship with the Italian guys too as they have a similar culture. There's a very nice and healthy ambience on Tour.
Winning the Scottish Championship presented by AXA in St Andrews was very special. I felt very confident and calm and shot nine under on the last round. I came from playing very well at Wentworth but struggling on the greens and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I was just practising my putting and trying to adjust. I found what was working for me and started the tournament with a ten under round on the first day but the second and third rounds were crucial to the win. They were not my best rounds but I managed to play two under on Friday and Saturday without my best golf and to give myself a chance to win on Sunday.
I like playing in the UK in general and I like links golf. That doesn't mean I'm going to play well all the time but I like the challenge and the creativity you need. I love the culture in Scotland around golf, they breathe golf everywhere you go.
I have very good friends in North Berwick called Bobby and Annie and before Covid I used to stay at their house when the Genesis Scottish Open was at The Renaissance. I used to go and hike up there and I've also hiked in Ireland. I love the outdoors: I love cycling and skiing and kayaking. I just feel that it cleans my mind and you're very much in the present when you're doing that. You have some time for yourself away from golf.
Playing in The Open this year is definitely one of my goals. I definitely need to play some good golf between now and then. I'm playing all four of the U.S. Open Qualifying Series. I think the series is great and it's very helpful for the DP World Tour players. It's very fair because the ten players who play the best golf over a month qualify for the U.S. Open.
It's definitely a goal to get into the Top 50 and I'm focusing on that. I'm trying my best every week to get there. My game is pretty solid and I'm playing well but I need to work on gaining a bit of distance, especially with the driver, to play on some of the longer courses. I feel like I'm getting there.
Definitely there is more pressure when you are just on the edge and fighting to keep your card. I practise to be fighting for tournaments and in contention, that's the target, so when you're there it means you're playing well and you have confidence and you're hitting the ball well. When you are on top and fighting for a win, you are in a position that you want to be in, when you are fighting to keep your card it means you are maybe not playing that well and you just have to fight like a gladiator to survive.
When I won the Final Stage in 2015 I felt very prepared because I had some good tournaments and I was playing good. It's all part of the process, part of the career, part of the way. I played very well the whole week and was very calm. I did not really worry about anything. After that, 2016 was pretty good and 2017 was better. It's just part of the process and getting more mature.
It was my target in all my seasons to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai and I didn't reach that goal but in 2017 I made it a reality. It was another little step forward in my career. I've been based and living in Dubai since I turned pro, it's been a long time and I've made some great friends and it's now my home. I feel so lucky and happy over there. I think it's a great place for me to practise in the winter and to spend time with the great weather and facilities. When I first moved there I was very young and it wasn't easy because I didn't know many people or places but the more time I spend there the more I like it and it really feels like home.
When I won in Belgium I qualified from the two rounds of strokeplay and I was playing very well. I'd finished second in my previous tournament in China and started the year in good form, I was striking the ball well and feeling confident on the course. In the knockouts I played very well. Every single round was under par and I was putting pressure on the other players because I wasn't missing many shots. I was very happy to have my second win on Tour and I have very good memories from Rinkven.
Rinkven requires strategy: a little bit of chess and a little bit of darts. You need to be accurate and precise. The distance is not a big thing because there are a lot of holes where you don't use driver but it's very important to be on the right side of the fairway to attack the pins.
I like the mental side of being one-on-one with another player. You play against the other guy and have to check what they are doing but I like doing my own thing at the same time. I concentrate on myself, try to do the best on every shot and then see what happens. Match play experience can help in that situation, you can definitely play a little bit more aggressive. All the experiences help for when you are facing a situation.
The season has been pretty good so far. I had a very good pre-season practising in Dubai and even with my bad start in Abu Dhabi with the quadruple-bogey on Friday, I felt like I was playing well and putting well. I had a solid week in Ras Al Khaimah and Qatar was very good, I felt like I was close to a win fighting right to the end and then the same happened in Spain. It's been a very positive beginning of the season and I just want to keep going.
I've always loved to sing since I was a kid, although I never had classes or anything like that. When I'm on my own, when I'm driving, when I'm in my hotel room, I'm singing all the time. In Kenya I was marking my balls for the next day and I was just singing and I decided to do a little video. My followers and people actually ask me from time to time to put a singing video up. I do it because I enjoy it but I also like that people enjoy it and have a laugh.