Adri Arnaus: Star in the making gives first Rookie Tour Diary

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.

I’m delighted to be writing my first column for Worldwide Golf and I’ll be keeping you up-to-date with my golfing adventures as I progress through my first season on the European Tour. This is only my second season as a professional golfer so there are plenty of new experiences and ups and downs along the way which I’ll be sharing with you.

I’ll start by telling you a little of the story of how I became a golfer. I grew up in Barcelona in Spain where my dad was the director of a little nine-hole par-three course and, starting from the age of around 5, I would go there to play during the week. I quickly got the golfing bug and by the time I was 10 I was competing nationally, eventually making it onto the National Team. I had some good results when I was growing up and started winning some Spanish tournaments and some European tournaments which led to me going to America to Texas A&M University on a golf scholarship for four and half years, which again expanded my scope of golf, playing with different players and working with different coaches.

I decided to try out the Alps Tour, playing as an amateur, just to see what it was like, and I found that I felt comfortable and could compete with the professionals.

I finished runner-up in my first two events and then won the Villaverde Open in my third event so I thought that was a good sign! Then I won the grand final and topped the Order of Merit to win a place on the 2018 Challenge Tour so I turned professional!  I went out with the same mentality last year on the Challenge Tour – just to try my best and see if I could compete with those guys. Winning the Challenge Tour Grand Final again proved to myself that I could compete at that level. I could see that my game was getting much better during the season and it ended with that victory in Ras Al Khaimah to finish second on the Rankings and gain promotion to the European Tour.

I’ve experienced three different levels of tour golf in a very short space of time but I have to say, every tour has its beauty. On the Alps Tour, you’re sharing houses with four or five guys, which I loved. On the Challenge Tour, you still share stuff with your friends on Tour and split costs where you can but at the same time get experience of flying long distances to play on different continents.

DEMANDING SITUATIONS ARE A TEST OF CHARACTER

On the main Tour, it’s all about being as comfortable as you can because the demanding situations are much bigger than on the other two tours so you need to take more of the details like travelling, nutrition, physical work and getting the right amount of rest. I’d say, in general, every step forward you take in your golfing career you need to consider the small details more carefully. I’ve been focused this season on arriving at tournaments as fresh as I can be rather than just playing in every event I’m eligible for. I’m lucky enough to be working with Richard Rayment, who also manages Rafa Cabrera-Bello, so we sit down together and decide which events we want to play. Of course, if I get into a big tournament, then we sit down and look at amending the schedule so that I can play my best in that event. One of my big short-term goals is to play in the US PGA Championship. I’m currently just outside the top 100 in the World Ranking so it’s within my reach.

I’m excited to be on the main Tour and enjoying competing with bigger players on bigger stages and it’s been a great learning experience so far. I’ve had some good results and it was great to be challenging for the title at the Magical Kenya Open, where I finished second. Of course…if I want to keep my record of winning the grand final going, I have to win the DP World Tour Championship this year!

That would be great of course but I just want to finish the season as high up the Race to Dubai Rankings this season as possible – top 30 would be a good start – and also put myself in contention to win tournaments. I proved to myself in Kenya that I could do that so I’m excited to do it more often now and it would be great if I could play some Majors! I would love to play in The Open Championship and The Masters  – I’ve watched over and over. Tiger’s chip on 16 at Augusta in 2005 and the footage of Jose Maria Olazabal’s two victories are my favourite memories so it would be a dream come true to play there.

COMFORTABLE ON THE BIG STAGE

Every time I’ve gone up a level so far I’ve felt comfortable and I’m sure that once I start playing Majors it will be the same, I just need to get used to that new environment. It was like when I played in Abu Dhabi earlier this season for the first time. Everything was new to me, but once you get past that, you start playing the best you can. I heard that Tommy Fleetwood mentioned me as the ‘surprise package’ of the year for this season. It was quite curious because I don’t really know him and he must have heard of me after talking to some people who had played with me. It was a nice surprise but at the end of the day that’s all it is. I’m not getting carried away and I’m still going to go out there and keep doing all the things that I’ve been doing so far in my career. I plan to move to Dubai soon to take advantage of all the amazing courses and practice facilities there so hopefully I’ll see some of you out on the course!

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