Catalunya Championship Preview, Picks & Analysis
THE DP World Tour visits Spain for a second successive week with the inaugural Catalunya Championship at the Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya, and once again there will be a strong home presence.
Pablo Larrazábal, Adrian Otaegui, Nacho Elvira, Jorge Campillo and Álvaro Quirós will all be taking part..
All five have previously played at the world-renowned venue, which has hosted tournaments including three Opens de España (2000, 2009 and 2014) and nine Qualifying School Final Stages (2008-16), and they are eager to fight for the title over the recently upgraded Stadium Course.
Larrazábal is currently fourth in the DP World Tour Rankings after two wins this year, the latest of which came at the weekend on home soil when he won the ISPS Hands Championship. He said: "I’m very happy to return to PGA Catalunya; it is one of the best courses in Spain.
“It is a course that I really like. I can do very well this time and I'm sure that, with the support at home, we can have a great week."
Otaegui, who finished runner-up to Larrazabal at the ISPS, has fond memories of PGA Catalunya after winning his card there through Qualifying School in 2015. Since then he has won three times, most recently at the 2020 Scottish Championship. He said: "I'm really looking forward to playing in Spain on a course I love.
“The first memory I have is when I was 10 years old I played nine holes when the course was still fairly new. Then I won the Q School in 2015 there, I played very well all week, it was a very nice moment, one of those you never forget. For me, without a doubt, PGA Catalunya is among the top five courses in Spain. It is a course that is always in very good condition and where you have to play well; it has holes that you can take advantage of and make birdie, but also others that are complicated.”
Elvira, winner of the Cazoo Open in Wales last season, returns to Girona with great expectations: "I played the PGA for an Open de España and a Q School final, and the course was completely different; the Open was played in very hard conditions but the course was spectacular.
“I don't know how they will prepare it for the Catalunya Championship but the PGA de Catalunya, if it has hard greens and a bit of rough, is an impressive test that I am looking forward to.”
Campillo is looking forward to returning to create new memories. The winner of the Trophee Hassan II in 2019 and the Qatar Masters last season, said: "I have only played Q School once in my life, and it was in 2010 at the PGA. I was fourth or fifth after five very hard days of the tournament. In the sixth round I got the card but made 81... I did not leave happy at all. However, it is a course I like, and I hope I will play better this time and I will be more satisfied."
Quirós is still hoping to regain the consistency that led him to win seven DP World Tour tournaments, including the 2010 Open de España and most recently the Rocco Forte Open - Verdura, Sicily in 2017.
He said: "It is always very nice to play in your own country and in this case when we are rather lacking in tournaments at this time of the year it is even nicer - and having two consecutive weeks in Spain is positive. PGA Catalunya is a great course that we've played on before. It’s always been a good test, hopefully we'll find ourselves with a course that's ready for the occasion.”
They are joined by four further winners on Tour this season in Scot Ewen Ferguson, Ashun Wu of China, New Zealand’s Ryan Fox and Dane Nicolai Hojgaard as well as his twin brother, Rasmus - also a winner last season.
Joining them will be five Ryder Cup players in Thomas Bjorn - who also led Europe to victory as the 2018 Ryder Cup Captain - Ross Fisher, Chris Wood, Thorbjorn Olesen and Bernd Wiesberger, all multiple DP World Tour winners.
It is surely time for Guido Migliozzi to live up to his undoubted promise. The Italian has missed four successive cuts and that is a miserable return for a player of his ability. He is a two-time winner on the DP World Tour and missed out in a playoff to Richard Bland at the British Masters last year. He is a hugely exciting talent.
Andy Sullivan is another who loves playing in this part of the world. He is capable of some incredible bursts of scoring but his problem this season has been in stringing together four rounds. Typical was his play at the Steyn Championship, where he opened with a pair of 68s and then followed that with 76 and 73 at the weekend.
Regularly ranked among the top 20 golf courses of Continental Europe, the Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya Golf and Wellness has benefited from a sustainability-focused €1million upgrade as Spain’s number one golf resort prepares to host the DP World Tour’s Catalunya Championship.
“We’ve worked tirelessly to enhance the design and definition of the layout and bunker surrounds, as well as improve the speed and quality of the greens,” said David Bataller, PGA Catalunya’s Director of Agronomy.
“The addition of fescue grass around the greens, perfectly suited to the Mediterranean climate, will test the very best players, while the enhanced drainage of the new-look Stadium Course will ensure firm playability in all weather.
“The redesigned 10th hole will challenge players from the tee on what is now a striking dog-leg left. Over on the sixth hole, changes to the tee position and the fairway have created more options for players and added a layer of strategy that will test all levels of golfer.
“We are eager to present the new-look Stadium Course to the players, spectators and millions of viewers, who will be following the action unfold during the Catalunya Championship.”
The Stadium Course is a par 72 measuring 7,200 yards. It was designed by Angel Gallardo and Neil Coles. It opened in 1999. It is tree-lined and features lakes that come into play on seven holes
This is the inaugural event.
Pablo Larrazabal is surely the man to beat, having already won twice this season and finished in a tie for fifth in Qatar despite a disappointing weekend. Adri Arnaus is climbing the world rankings after three successive top-10 finishes, including a joint runner-up at the MyGolfLife Open in South Africa.
Pablo Larrazabal. Right at home here - and on fire!
Guido Migliozzi.Needs to iron out inconsistency
Adri Arnaus. Could become a serial winner
Five to Follow:
Pablo Larrazabal. Full of confidence
Guido Migliozzi. Needs to hole a few putts
Bernd Wiesberger. Eight-time tour winner.
Ashun Wu. When he’s good, he is really good
Andy Sullivan. Nearly there
Five Outsiders to Watch:
David Law. Just needs more self-belief
Grant Forrest. Enormously talented Scot
Scott Jamieson. Looking to rediscover early-season form
Adrian Otaegui. Has shown some decent form
Nacho Elvira. Hugely impressive ball striker
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