Adri Arnaus: Competing in my second Major of the season is a dream come true

Adri Arnaus has risen through the ranks of tour golf at sensational speed. He won the Alps Tour Order of Merit in 2017, while still an amateur, after two victories including the tour’s season-ending grand final. He then repeated the feat by winning the Challenge Tour’s season-ender in Ras Al Khaimah last year to take second place on the Rankings and gain promotion to the European Tour. Tommy Fleetwood picked him as his ‘surprise package’ of the season and he’s a player that has all those ‘in the know’ in the golf world excited. 

Good things are beginning to happen to me right now – and I can’t quite believe it. My goal was to play in a Major championship this season and as I wrote in my last column I was disappointed at being so close to making the field for the US PGA Championship but just missing out. 

Going to Walton Heath in Surrey for the U.S. Open qualifier was a great opportunity and to qualify on one of England’s toughest courses, was a great achievement. 

At Walton Heath I played aggressively and things were not looking good after 27 holes. But I knew there were opportunities on the homeward stretch and I managed to turn it around with a couple of eagles and a birdie on the final hole to card an 8-under par and get back into the top 14 and earn my passage to California.

When I arrived at the Pebble Beach Golf Links everything seemed like a dream! After playing a round I sat down with Rafa Cabrera Bello, who has the same manager as me and is a good friend, and he said: “Do you know that in 2010 I also had my first Major experience here?” He told me that he shot one-under-par in his first round and he was second or third on the leaderboard. 

I wanted to have a good start like Rafa. I managed to play well on that opening Thursday and shot 69. It made me feel really good about myself. Talking to Rafa had put me into the right mindset and, overall, it was a fantastic experience. Jon Rahm and I get along very well. We grew up together, we played in the same national team together and we have a great relationship. To see him there playing in the same Major was a reaffirmation that I was doing the right things. I was trying to learn from him and his experiences. He told me about how he plays the course and about which Major he likes compared to the other tournaments. Since it was my first Major experience I wanted to get as much feedback from the players who are close to me.

Best players on the European Tour

I was fortunate to be in a practice round with Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, two Race to Dubai champions who are among the best players on the European Tour! I was so happy to play with them on my side and I managed to learn a little bit from them. They made me feel included as they told me about their experience in The Ryder Cup.

It was only in November last year when I won at Ras Al Khaimah on the Challenge Tour, so everything is happening very quickly for me. I’m just enjoying them as much as I can. I feel relatively comfortable in the United States. I came up through Texas A&M University and spent four and a half years there.

I made the cut at Pebble Beach but I couldn’t match my first round 69 performance. I shot 75-73-72 which took me to a tie for 58th place. It wasn’t long before I found my feet at another big event – the Andalucia Masters Hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.

I can look back at the week I had at Valderrama with such warmth. It has a special place in my heart. I got to play in front of my home crowd at such an iconic venue. It was my first time playing there. I had a good feeling about the tournament. I was so excited to play there and to be able to get it going on the first day with a 68, then ending up playing the whole weekend with legend Sergio Garcia. It was so great. It’s such an amazing story to tell. I finished in a share second place at 4 under par with my fellow countrymen Jon Rahm, Alvaro Quiros, Eduardo de la Riva and France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera. Sergio was tied fifth, a shot further back. 

My first ambition was to play in a Major. Now having qualified at Valderrama I’m playing in my second Major of the season – The Open Championship. It’s just great that I am playing in two Majors in my first season on the European Tour. It’s amazing to be playing at Royal Portrush. Links golf is something I’ve always loved, because that’s how I got started. It makes you think about how golf courses change from day to day. It’s going to be another special week.

I watched footage on TV of Seve Ballesteros playing The Open over the years. He had that charisma and the English people loved him. Whenever I think of The Open he would come to my mind as well, so it’s going to be really cool to put my name along with all the Spaniards in this year’s edition.

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