Hidalgo enjoys the pressure and Rory's company

Hidalgo admitted to being a little surprised at being joint third with McIlroy

Angel Hidalgo of Spain (left) at the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday. — AFP
Angel Hidalgo of Spain (left) at the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday. — AFP

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Fri 27 Jan 2023, 10:07 PM

For someone so young and still learning, Spain’s Angel Hidalgo takes any advice seriously.

When he was once told that playing under pressure was the key, the 24-year-old from Valderrama started to enjoy dealing with stress which helped him to up his game to crazy limits.

Like on Friday at the Emirates Golf Club where he fired a seven-under 66 to find himself in august company, one shot off the lead at the end of Round 1 of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

Keeping the 23-year-old Spaniard company was none other than World No 1 Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, and Louis de Jager.

“I love the pressure,” he said with a smile. “You know, I heard, I think it was Seve (Ballesteros) or Jacques Léglise, I don't remember, who said, if I don't feel pressure, I'm playing for nothing. So I like the pressure.

“It's my rookie year but last year I played a lot of tournaments and obviously Valderrama (Andalucia Masters) was like top one (he fired a 63 in the second round)

“So that gave me the confidence to know I can play with Rory and the rest of the players. So yeah, go to the course and hit the ball,” Hildago added.

Commenting on his round on Friday, the likeable Spaniard said:: “It was amazing. I didn't start hitting so well but yeah, the birdie I made on 18 gave me a lot of confidence and I start playing so well on the back nine.

”The last hole was really, really long. I hit a driver, 4-iron. So with that pin, sometimes you sign for five.”

Hidalgo also admitted to being a little surprised at being joint third with McIlroy.

“It was weird to see my surname and his surname together in the leaderboard. It was pretty cool,” he said.

“That's why I made bogey, to be close to him (laughing).

“It was something, a good dream when you see him winning majors. We played good today, and maybe why not play with him (again)?"

It was only two years ago that Hidalgo earned his first Challenge Tour title at the 2021 Big Green Egg German Challenge, finishing two strokes clear of Lukas Nemecz and compatriot Santiago Tarrio.

Born in Marbella, Hidalgo began playing golf when he was just two-year-old as his grandfather, who also chose his name, watched.

As he grew up so did his game and he was soon winning tournaments in Andalucia.

His big break came when he was selected for the national under-14 team and more recently when he won the Spanish National Amateur title in El Saler and the Spain Under-18 International tournament in Bonalba, which featured teams from all over Europe.

Hidalgo confesses that he’s most comfortable with his putter but also wants to improve with his irons.

Well, it appears that he’s done that already given the golfing exhibition that he put on display at the Emirates Golf Club.

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