Dubai: Adrian Otaegui and Adri Arnaus, the Spanish pair and Dubai-based residents, say the newly upgraded Stadium Course will provide a fantastic test for players this week as the DP World Tour remains in their home country for the Catalunya Championship. It is week 12 of 44 on the DP World Tour’s 2022 International Schedule.
PGA Catalunya Golf and Wellness previously hosted the Open de España in 2000, 2009 and 2014, while it was also the venue for the DP World Tour Qualifying School Final Stage, with the event staged at both the Stadium Course and the other championship layout, the Lap Race.
Both players are familiar with the venue, with Otaegui having regained his Tour card as joint-winner of the 2015 Q School and uses the facilities when he stays at his apartment in Girona. ”I really love the golf course; I have played here many times,” said three-time DP World Tour winner Otaegui. ”Many years ago [at Qualifying School Final Stage] I played well. It is one of my favorite golf courses in Spain.
”I haven’t played it in a long time and there have been a few changes. But so far, I have only played nine holes and the conditions are very good. The rough is thick, greens are soft. Hopefully, they will dry up a little over the week. It is a fantastic design, a fantastic course.’
Arnaus said he had always hoped to play one day at PGA Catalunya, having come to watch the Open de España in 2009 as a spectator. ”Seeing this course evolve and get as good as it is at this point is very cool to have it so close to us,” he added. ”It seems like it is going to be a great set-up for all of us players.”
Otaegui arrives at the tournament in encouraging form after his outright second place finish at the ISPS Handa Championship where a bogey-free four-under par 66 saw him finish one stroke behind countryman Pablo Larrazábal who he earned a seventh DP World Tour title.
”It was a very good week for me from the very first day to the last day,’ Otaegui said. “Obviously I wanted to win, always want to win but I am very happy with the way I played.”
In contrast, Arnaus, who is chasing a maiden DP World Tour title, missed the second cut after the third round at the weather affected tournament at Infinitum’s Lakes Course.
The 27-year-old, who admitted he was unable to react well enough to the delays, is encouraged with the progress he has made on his game as he seeks to build on three top tens this season. ”I have had quite a good start to the season,” said Arnaus, who was joint runner-up at the MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood last month.
”You always want to finish it off on the weekend a couple of times here and there. But at the end, the season is very long. The few things that I have been working on are showing on the course and I am super excited to keep doing things the right way and have a few chances over the summer which is looking pretty exciting.”
Otaegui moved up to 17th in the DP World Tour Rankings following last week’s result in Tarragona and is eager to maintain the momentum he has built up in recent weeks.
Asked what the key assets will be to challenging for victory this week, Otaegui replied: ”I need to keep doing what I have been doing well. Playing well from tee to green will obviously help this week because the rough is thick and hitting from the fairway will give you more opportunities to attack the pins.”
Other players in the field with local interest include Ross McGowan (England, representing Al Hamra Golf Club, Ras Al Khaimah), Pablo Larrazabal (Spain), last week’s winner on the DP World Tour and Honorary Member of Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Dubai residents Guido Migliozzi (Italy) and Renato Paratore (Italy), former Emirates Golf Club Junior Member Sebastian Heisele (Germany) and Abu Dhabi resident David Horsey (England).
The 72-hole, four round Catalunya Championship has a purse of $2 million and has a field of 156 players.