“I look around and think I can do this..” Welcome to the European Tour, Santi.
09/29/2021 by Elena Sinde Romero
The resurgence of Santiago Tarrio, from the Alps Tour to the European Tour, in five years.
Santiago Tarrio Ben from Spain during Day Four of the B-NL Challenge Trophy at The Dutch golf course. (Getty Images)
Good morning, we are here today with Santiago Tarrio and his caddy Noelia, a Spanish golfer from Padron. He has been playing the European Challenge tour since 2016. We are going to get started to get to know you a littler better and what your goals are and how you feel about this upcoming season, you obviously are ranked number one now, showing a solid golf game so we hope to keep it that way for longer.
Welcome to Golf Post, how are you today?
Tarrio: The feeling is good, the results are amazing and it is going better than expected. I am very happy for me and for my team. The main goal was to make it to the main European Tour, and now that is accomplished after all, I am very happy and excited about next year, I cannot wait to be surrounded by all of the other boys from the Tour and try to play my best.
Golf Post: You have accomplished one of the biggest goals that any golfer can dream of, how does that make you feel?
Tarrio: I am very excited. Now, we are playing in some of the European Tour events, and I am looking forward to playing all of them next year, and enjoy those nice courses out there and catching some experience.
Golf Post: We are here today at the golf course that saw you grow up since you first introduced yourself into golf. After five years of jumping from one place to another every other weekend, does this course still feel like home? Do you still practice here or have you found some other field that fits your needs better?
Tarrio: Yeah, I was basically born on this course, I started to play here, this is my course and this city is my home, so when I have one week off, I come here to see my family, friends and have some rest too. Of course, I also play and practice at other courses but I like to spend time at the course that saw me growing up. I love it here.
Golf Post: In 2005, your handicap was 6,5, and now in 2021 you are Top 100 in the OGWR. How does that feel? Did you expect to come that far in your golf career?
Tarrio: Wow, I was only 15 years old in 2005 and I tell you what, I do not remember what my handicap was back then, but it is really nice that you tell me and now for me to think about it. I always try to improve every year. I stopped playing golf entirely for five years when I was 17 though. But I returned 5 years ago, and I started to play the Alps Tour and some minor tours. My goal was to become a professional golfer and play the Challenge Tour and soon the European Tour. Now, five years later, I accomplished my goal, and I am very happy about it, I got it.
My amateur life was short, I only used to play the national championship once a year and some regional tournament. I found this was a disadvantage compared to other players because I think it is necessary to play important tournaments as an amateur to enrich your experience and to work with the best national coaches and trainers. It is something that grows into one’s game. I guess that being able to accomplish my goals without having lived any of that makes me feel more proud of my team and myself.
Golf Post: After all, as you said, you still managed to turn professional and be first ranked in the Challenge Tour right now. You began to play this Tour in 2016, is there an event that is more special for you?
Tarrio: In 2018, I played my first season with full card in the Challenge after I won the Alps Tour. I would say that was the most special moment for me because of the big gap that exists from one to the other. I like to learn from the other guys, and I liked the Alps Tour because most of the players had a lack of sources, so we used to share travel expenses as well as accommodation. That brought me a lot of good moments and it was very special for me to close that stage with a win.
Golf Post: Noelia, you have been his caddy and partner in crime at the golf course ever since Santi started this journey. We have heard that no other caddy reads the greens as good as you do. What was the most special moment for you?
Noelia García: Our first victory together at the Spanish Challenge. Although I also have experience in the PGA Tour, where we started with a triple boggey on the first hole, we made a 7 because we took the wrong meassure, but now we remember it as a funny memory.
Tarrio: She is a really good caddy, I am afraid I will have to fight the best players in the world that try to tempt her with better contracts and want to steal her from me, because she is a very nice caddy.
Golf Post: You are playing insane golf this season, collecting two wins and five Top 5. Once again, you are currently Top 100 in the OGWR. What has been the key to the success?
Tarrio: I think it is the mental game. I make birdies and I look up around me and think “Ok I can do this, I can play this game just like these top golfers here, I can do this.”
Golf Post: What are you most thankful for that guides you to this success?
Tarrio: My team. I have a lot of people around me that supported me through the bad moments and push me through them always. I think that is key and I am very happy with the team I brought together.
Golf Post. Now that your team and you have secured a spot in the main European Tour for the upcoming season, what are your goals? How do you see your future playing out in the European Tour?
Tarrio: My main goal is to maintain and consolidate the spot in the Main Tour during the first year, and then I will try for my first victory of course. I want to go step by step, which has always been the process we followed up until today. Of course my ultimate goal is to play the Masters of Augusta, and to play a Ryder Cup with the European Team. But for now, we need to work hard on every step on the path.
Golf Post: In April 22-25th, you played the Limpopo Championship, in South Africa. Then, you were T72 in the Challenge Tour ranking. Only two months later, in June you were proclaimed winner of the Spanish Challenge and leader of the Challenge Tour. How do you and your team manage the pressure to keep it that way?
Tarrio: We try to go shot by shot and week by week. I felt the pressure when I missed nine cuts in a row, or when I needed a good tournament to get the full card privileges. It was very hard to be able to bear the expenses playing the Alps Tour because of the lack of sponsors, and the low money prizes. So having to play the Alps for one more year also put pressure on me because that would have cut down the chances to continue maybe. Golf is not rocket science, and the effort may not always pay off. But now, we found more sponsors, and also the money prizes are higher. We are seeing the effort show in the scores, and when the game is good, there is no pressure.
Golf Post: About a month ago, the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020 were celebrated. Jon Rahm tested positive and you were up next to play according to the current ranking. However, the Spanish Federation and NOC decided to fly out Jorge Campillo instead. What happened? Do you think it was an unfair decision?
Tarrio: When the inscription lists were closed, I was ranked just one spot behind Adri Arnaus in the World Ranking, so I knew that I had a small chance to go if anything happened that didn’t allow Jon Rahm or Adri Arnaus to go. I was surprised that I did not get the call to aware me that I was first in the substitute list. The week before the Olympic Games, I was playing in Italy when my team and I found out about the positive COVID-19 case of Jon Rahm.
I got in contact with my physiologist and manager, Joaquin to get in contact with the Spanish Federation to see what the next steps were because we believed that we should be the ones to go to Tokyo, but the time to sort things out was limited due to Covid restrictions and requirements previous to the Games. Joaquin called me and explained to me that the Spanish Federation had to send out a provisional list in March that collected all the names of the possible players that could represent the country in case something like this happened to the two players that were chosen in the first place.
The Spanish Federation believed that five names were enough. However, Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera rejected their spots to Tokyo. Therefore, there were only three left in the list: Jon Rahm, Adri Arnau and Jorge Campillo.
This meant that any other Spanish golfer that was out of that list could never have the chance to participate in the Tokyo Games whatsoever, although other players went ahead in the OWGR since March until the last update of the World Ranking previous to the Games, like it happened to me, the same way it could have happened to any other.
In this case, by the time the World Rankings were updated, Jorge Campillo was two spots behind me and one spot behind Otaegui. I think it was a huge negligence. The worst part is that the Federation acted shady and I am hurt that the Federation did not release a public statement informing on the situation to all golfers and fans explaining what is happening and how they are proceeding.
I recognize that I received apologies from the President of the Spanish Federation, who was not aware of the situation and did not know that I was next in the list. Therefore, the party responsible was the president. Actually, the Spanish Olympic Committee put me down on their list, but not the Federation, which was just a shame for me.
Golf Post: The weekend after the Olympic Games you proved a point at the Hero Open with a crazy total of 21-under par, with rounds of 69-66-67-63. You brought you own bronze metal home that weekend, and finished first out of all the Spanish golfers. I am sure that was a tough mental challenge, but you managed to get over successfully. How did you face such a challenge and how did you feel afterwards?
Tarrio: I think the week before was the hardest one playing in the European Tour event and awaiting to see what was going on with the Olympic Games. Then it turned out that I was not flying to Tokyo and quickly had to prepare to play in Scotland. I was physically and mentally tired, but it was very special for my team and I. The results were great, we finished third and I even got asked to sign some autographs, which I am not very used to do so.
Golf Post: Speaking of the Olympic Games, Paris 2024 is coming up soon, only three years away from now, and time flies. Is that one of the goals that you included in the long-term of your golf career?
Tarrio: It was not one of the goals that I was planning on chasing so far for now. I believe that if I ever accomplish such a goal, it will mean a reward to the team for all the hard work that we are putting in, and definitely a huge gift for us. It will be the revenge for Tokyo 2020(1), and we know that it will not be easy, but we will try our best always to get as far as possible.
Golf Post: So far you goal is to get to the European Tour next season and to maintain the card. Maybe bring a couple of victories home for the next couple of years, and who knows if we may see you in Paris as well. What is the part of your game that you are focusing the most on to improve your performance, is there anything specific that you consider a weakness?
Tarrio: I think I need to improve in all parts of golf because I have more golf inside me, I can improve in the physical, mental and technical parts. It is nice for me not to see the top of my golf game at the moment. I would say the physical part is probably the worst part of my game because of the non-stop traveling and training. However, I always try to improve in all parts because I think there is always blanks to fill.
Golf Post: Thank you so much for having us, for this interview. It was really great talking to you. We wish you the best of luck for the upcoming tournaments and for you to accomplish all the goals for the European Tour next season.
Tarrio: My pleasure. I hope to see you more times in the future for more interviews. Thank you so much.
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