With pressure to the title: Andoni Etchenique wins in Egypt
EINBAY Red Sea Open 2023
Premiere, the fourth: At the end of the Egypt Swing at the spectacular Ain Sokhna Golf Club, a player again celebrates his first victory on the Pro Golf Tour. At the EINBAY Red Sea Open, Frenchman Andoni Etchenique (-9) wins after rounds of 68, 70 and 69 strokes, just ahead of compatriot Tom Santa (-8). Timo Vahlenkamp (Germany) shares third place with Cédric Gugler (Switzerland) and Antoine Pouguet (France).
Ain Sokhna, Egypt - The final day of the EINBAY Red Sea Open unfolded into a battle of wits between Frenchmen Andoni Etchenique and Tom Santa. In the penultimate group, Etchenique got off to a good start and opened his round with a birdie. Fellow countryman Santa, one of the leaders after day two, had a little more trouble on the first holes and recorded a bogey on hole four. At that point, the French duo were tied. "I know him pretty well," Etchenique said of his Tour colleague. "We didn't play in the same group, so it was a bit easier."
Etchenique was thus able to focus completely on his own game - but at the same time he knew that he was playing against Santa for the title. At the latest after further birdies on the 13th and 14th holes, the 24-year-old felt the pressure. Which didn't bother him - on the contrary. Already last year, together with a mental coach, he had noticed how the pressure can be a help to him. "I had big problems at the beginning of last season. Then I got a mental coach and that helped me a lot." The new approach bore immediate fruit. Etchenique finished the 2022 season with three top-20 results in a row.
"I used to just let my rounds go," Etchenique says about the valuable insights. "Only after making mistakes I then started to play better. Now I try to always immediately feel like I'm under pressure and have to deliver." Adding to the new mental strength is a return to the old swing coach the man from Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle has been working with again since the winter. After two tournament victories in France, the new season started as well as the last one had ended. Before the EINBAY Red Sea Open, he had finished all three events in the top 20.
The reward of hard work
"All these changes, plus a lot of hard work, got me here," Etchenique enthused after the thrilling final at Ain Sokhna Golf Club. After a bogey on 16, he knew he would need one more birdie to keep his title chance alive. Etchenique converted that pressure into a shot gain on 17. Santa could not respond and so the total score of -9 was enough for Etchenique to win. However, before heading back home to prepare for the next event in Haugschlag (26-28 April), Etchenique will make a stopover in Paris. There, in addition to his success, he will celebrate his girlfriend's birthday.
After the first four events at the once again perfectly prepared Golf Club Ain Sokhna, which was again praised effusively by the players, the interim result in the Order of Merit is as follows: Clement Guichard (France) leads with 7,728 points ahead of Etchenique with 6,957 points and Christian Bräunig (Germany) with 6,944 points. The top five were completed by Pedro Lencart (Portugal) and Pouguet.