Golf - News 2017

Valderrama Hoyo 17 © Golffoto.es
Valderrama Hoyo 17 © Golffoto.es

Golf News 2017

García surges towards another Valderrama victory

Sergio García©RC Valderrama ©
Sergio García©RC Valderrama

by María Acacia López-Bachiller

Sergio Garcia continued his march towards a sixth European Tour victory on home soil after the local hero moved into the outright lead heading into the final day of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.

The reigning Masters Champion's most recent home victory came the last time this tournament was played, in 2011 - also at Valderrama - and he moved one step closer to a third title of the season courtesy of a three under 68 to move to an eight under par total.

The 37 year old tournament host, who was this week awarded with Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour as well as of Real Club Valderrama, was followed by throngs of Spanish fans at the sun-kissed venue and he did not disappoint, starting strongly with birdies at the second and third.

While back to back bogeys pegged him back at the fifth and sixth, Garcia birdied the eighth to reach the turn in one under before further gains at the 11th and 14th, along with a bogey at the 15th, kept him in a share of the lead.

The 13-time European Tour winner had the crowd in raptures, however, on the par five 17th as a two-putt birdie earned him a one-stroke overnight advantage over Englishman Daniel Brooks, who significantly boosted his hopes of retaining his European Tour card for 2018 with a stunning seven under 64 to sit in second place outright.

Sergio García 68(-3) Total -8

"I think it was pretty solid. Got off to a great start with two, almost three, birdies in a row. Then I unfortunately I missed a couple of shots and made a couple of bogeys, but I stayed patient and made a good birdie on 8 and almost a great birdie on 9. On the back nine a couple of good saves and then a couple of nice birdies to finish with.

"I'm pleased with my patience; even on the tough moments I'm staying patient and waiting for my things to happen, and that's what I want to keep doing.

"I'll go out there tomorrow and try to post another under par round and see what happens. Brooks today shot 7 under, so good rounds are possible, but they have to be spot on. We know what Valderrama has in hand. I guess the way it's playing you could go low, but everything has to go your way; you have to be spot on, and the couple of shots you miss you have to get lucky and have guts or have really good lies in the rough - it's not easy.

"Five wins in Spain would be a great achievement, but it's still a long day ahead tomorrow and I can't get too much ahead of myself. I'm excited to be up there, that's where I want to be and I'll try to do my best tomorrow.

"To see so many people follow was amazing. You have to give it up to the Spanish people to come out here and support and cheer us on."

Daniel Brooks: "It's possibly the best round of my life. There's a lot of birdies out there and I played some really nice golf. It's been quite similar all week, but I had a few silly bogeys. Today I managed to keep them off the card and ended up with a minus 7.

"I got to a quick start as I've been doing all week, but today I just kept it very steady. I hit a lot of good shots; it's been like inside like six feet, eight feet all day. I've been hitting it a good distance off the tee, giving me a lot of wedge chances and my distance control has been really good, so hopefully I can go on like that.

"On this course you need to play aggressive to get into good positions off the tee, and then it's a lot easier to attack. I f you play quite conservative it does becomes trickier and longer. This week I've been playing quite aggressive, I've been attacking pins, I've been playing nice golf.

"Around here, the moment you start hitting a few trees your head starts to go all over the place. Today was a lot calmer for me and I kept it in play.  If I shoot anything under par tomorrow I will be quite happy.

"Coming here I knew that I needed a good week and I sort of accepted that I would probably have to go back to Q-School, so it's a big bonus if I have a great day tomorrow."

 

Sergio Garcia awarded European Tour Honorary Life Membership

Presidente Valderrama y Sergio©Martín Gutiérrez ©
Presidente Valderrama y Sergio©Martín Gutiérrez

by María Acacia López-Bachiller

Sergio Garcia, the reigning Masters Champion, has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour in recognition of his triumph at Augusta National in April.

The 13-time European Tour winner becomes the 53nd player to be added to the exclusive list and is just the third Spaniard to receive the accolade, after Seve Ballesteros (1983) and José María Olazábal (1994).

The 37 year old was presented with the award by European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley during Real Club Valderrama's President's Dinner at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation, where he entered the weekend in contention for a 14th title.

Garcia sealed his maiden Major Championship title in thrilling fashion in Georgia, overcoming his four-time Ryder Cup team mate Justin Rose on the first play-off hole after they matched each other in the final round with rounds of 69, having shared the third round lead.

His victory was widely celebrated 18 years after he first broke onto the scene as a precocious teenager. He turned professional after being the only amateur to make the cut at the 1999 Masters, and three months later won his first European Tour title at the Irish Open. He then played a starring role at the US PGA Championship in August of that year before making his Ryder Cup debut in September.

Garcia currently has 31 professional victories to his name, including ten on the US PGA Tour and five on the Asian Tour, while he has made eight appearances in The Ryder Cup, contributing to five European victories and racking up a points total of 22.5.

"This is an incredible honour for me," said Garcia. "To join Seve and José María on the list of Honorary Members for the European Tour is very special and adds to what has already been a life-changing year for me, on and off the course.

"I have always loved playing on the European Tour and I have had so many unforgettable moments there, while there is no more special privilege than representing Europe in The Ryder Cup. I am humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as Seve, José María and the other great players on this list and it is a very special moment for me."

Keith Pelley said: Keith Pelley said: "It is an absolute privilege to present Sergio Garcia with Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour. The world of golf rejoiced at his Masters triumph in April and this week, where he is the host of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, is the perfect setting to commemorate that victory."

Garcia was also presented with Honorary Life Membership of Real Club Valderrama by the club's president Nuno De Brito De Cunha.

 

Luiten leads after Andalucian albatross

Joost Luiten©RC Valderrama ©
Joost Luiten©RC Valderrama

by María Acacia López-Bachiller

Joost Luiten carded the first ever albatross in tournament play on Real Club Valderrama's 11th hole to move into the halfway lead at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.

The Dutchman's incredible feat - the fifth albatross on the European Tour this year and just the third in tournament play at this venue - was almost made even more remarkable when he came to within inches of finding the cup for a hole-in-one on the following hole.

In the end, Luiten signed for a one under par 70 to move to a six under total, moving a shot clear of Scott Jamieson, Robert Rock and the tournament host Garcia.

The Masters Champion shared the first round lead with Luiten but could not follow up his opening 66 with an under par second round, carding a level par 71 to give the home crowds plenty to shout about at the weekend.

Scotsman Jamieson had three birdies in the space of four holes on the front nine to thank for his impressive three under 68 in breezy conditions on the notoriously challenging course, while Rock boosted his hopes of a third European Tour title with a one under 70.

Joost Luiten

"On 11 I had a good drive at 209 meters to the flag, sitting up nicely on the semi rough. Wind was helping a bit, perfect number for a 4 iron. I hit it good and it pitched a couple of yards on the green and then released, and I heard the crowd go crazy. I couldn't see it from down there, but we knew it was in. An albatross is always special, and I am pleased to have the first albatross on that hole.

When you are hot you want to keep it going, so I hit a 5 iron straight at the pin on the next hole, and it pitched like 3 feet short and I rolled that in for a birdie, so two twos. That's what you want; when you are in the zone like that you want to go at flags.

I saved a couple of good pars at 13 and 14; unfortunately I missed on 15 and was a bit unlucky on 17 with the drive ending in a plugged lie in the bunker, but I got lucky today a couple of times so you when you get unlucky you can accept it easier, I guess.

That's Valderrama, you can make birdies but you can make bogeys just as easy.

I like this place, I've been second here, so hopefully we can have a good weekend and we can win and open the champagne Sunday night. But there's still a lot of golf to be played.

I think the course will play a bit shorter off the tee but a bit harder to keep it on the fairways. It's still fairly soft, so you can be aggressive into the pins, but you must keep it on the fairway. I think 10 under would be a good number".

Sergio García

"I think I could have shot 2 or 3 under, but it was tough out there this afternoon; a little breezy, the fairways were firming up, some of the pins were difficult to get to. Because of all the rain the greens in the afternoon got a bit bumpy and I struggled with the speed on some of the putts. At the end of the day, even par is not a bad round here with a bit wind, and we are still there. Two up-and-downs on 17 and 18 to finish with a better feeling, and hopefully we can keep going in that direction tomorrow.

"I could have seen someone finishing 7 or 8 under today, but Valderrama is Valderrama, there's always some breeze, the greens are very small, the pins are tucked in, and even though the greens are soft, you still have to hit a lot of good shots, and if you don't, you have a fight. It happened to both Andrew and Shane on the last; they both played beautifully all day and finished with doubles. It is tricky, and that's why we love this course.

The winning score is difficult to say. I think the course is going to get firmer and tougher as the week goes on; anything between where we are and 8 or 9 under could have a chance, but it depends very much on the weather conditions. 

As for my wrist, I felt a couple of pinches on 13 and 14, so I will ice it and put the anti-inflammation pads, but unfortunately, I guess that it gets worse just by playing".

Jon Rahm

"It hurts. It was such a special week I wanted to play well, and it's a shame that one of my three bad weeks this year had to be this one.

I believe the problem has been mainly mental - too much pressure on myself, too big expectations.  I was playing well coming into this week and I was very much looking forward to playing for the Spanish public. I tried too hard on every shot and didn't allow my swing to flow. Once I got to +3 or +4 I kind of relaxed and started hitting good shots both days.

I put too much responsibility on myself to give a good show instead of playing within myself; but the public has been great to me and I felt their support all along the way.

Such is golf, and it will be over in half an hour. It's neither the first nor the last missed cut in my career. You can't play well every time, an this kind of experience is part of the learning curve. Next week is also important and hopefully I will play well. This is not my last visit to Valderrama, and I will be more experienced next time for sure

Valderrama has not been tougher for me than for the rest. The only thing I can say is that I belive the European Tour's decision of no preferred lies on Friday was unfair, because having had preferred lies on Thursday, the course was still wet for the morning groups. I actually got two mud clots on 7 and 17 that affected my shots badly. But those were only two shots, the rest were my own doing.

I don't think the pins were trickier today - all Valderrama pins are difficult."

 

García the host with the most in Valderrama

Sergio García©RC Valderrama ©
Sergio García©RC Valderrama

by María Acacia López-Bachiller

Sergio Garcia got off to the perfect start as the tournament host of his home European Tour event as the Spaniard moved into a share of the first round lead at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.

The 37 year old is making his first appearance in his native land since claiming his maiden Major Championship title at the Masters Tournament in April and he delighted the home crowds upon his return with a five under par 66.

That marked his best ever start on a Real Club Valderrama course upon which he has already enjoyed one victory and three runner-up finishes, and he was joined at the top by Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, who carded five birdies on the front nine - his back nine - en route to a 66.

Another local favourite, Pablo Larrazábal, backed up Garcia's home charge as he signed for a four under 67 to share second place with Englishman Robert Rock, while Andrew Johnston - who won on this course last year - was two shots further back in a share of sixth.

World Number Five Jon Rahm, meanwhile, got off to a disappointing start in his first professional appearance on home soil as he struggled to a three over par 74.

Sergio García

"Unfortunately, it's very wet after the rain, but the course is holding well. Towards the end of the round the ball wasn't even picking up mud on many spots on the fairway. It's the kind of course that only needs a little bit of sun and it dries quickly. Obviously it was gettable because it was soft, but you still have to hit good shots. I was able to do that most of the day. Except the drive on 8, I was pretty much spot on, hit some good putts here and there - overall I'm very happy."

"It's not the first time that Valderrama plays soft, but I wouldn't say that it was at its easiest because we had some breeze, and you still need to put the ball in the right place. It was not easy to two putt if you hit the wrong side of the green."

"Today I made some putts and missed others. We had some tricky pin positions. We could barely touch some of the putts and it's hard to hold the line even with a slight breeze. I normally drive well and I enjoy driving here because the fairways open up bit more than with an iron or a wood. Using the driver has always been my strategy at Valderrama and I see no reason to change. My game today has been a blend of good ball striking, some nice chips and good putting".

"I don't remember birdieing all the par threes - four twos. I may have done it with an eagle on a par four, but I don't think I have ever made four twos on the par threes."  

"It was great having so much support. If we don't get support in Spain, I don't know where we are supposed to get it (laughs). So many people came round early in the morning with a lot of kids and it was great."

Pablo Larrazábal

"I had a horrible start with two wild drives. I bogeyed the first, but I managed to save par on the second with a great 3-wood between the trees, and there I started believing in myself. I played solid from there giving myself options and waiting for my chances. The first birdie was on 9 and then two more in a row gave me the momentum I needed. I kept being patient and two more came: a lucky flyer on 16 that finished close and a great shot on 17.

I feel comfortable at Valderrama. I much prefer to play on a difficult course where shooting around par is good. I don't like to tee it up thinking that I need a round of six or seven under to be up there. Here four rounds just under par will put you in contention on Sunday. The other factor is the greens. I love fast greens, and these greens together with Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the French Open are probably the best on tour.

It is a real luxury for us to play on a course like this. Not many courses on the European Tour are set up to this standard and we do appreciate it.

My game is in good shape, but the results have not been coming lately. Only two cuts in the last ten starts is a bad performance, but I am working well and doing the right things for a long time, so the results will come sooner or later".

Jon Rahm

"It's been a pretty bad day to say the least. I don't really know what happened between 2 and 8 - nothing good besides the birdie on 6. Holing the putt on 12 has settled things a bit but I never got into it. It's a shame that this had to happen on my first appearance in Spain, but at least the worst round of the week is over. Better today than on Sunday."

"Such is golf, and there's not much more to say. I don't know if I am doing the right things mentally, probably not, because this wouldn't have happened. My swing is ok because I hit some good shots.  Maybe wrong decisions, bad luck, a couple bad putts and a bit of everything that made me slip into a chain of bogeys."

"It's very easy to get uncomfortable in Valderrama if you have never played it before. After I let the tension go I started hitting good shots, but even those were not good enough. I think I need more experience of this course. It's a bit like Augusta, very few players win here the first time - but this is not over! (laughs)."

"I couldn't perform as I would have liked in front of the public, only a few good shots on the last holes, but that helps. It's hard when everybody cheers you and you cannot give them a good show, but I am grateful for their support and it did help. Today could have been much worse without their encouragement."

 

Home hero Garcia returns hoping to Master Valderrama

Sergio García©RC Valderrama ©
Sergio García©RC Valderrama

by María Acacia López-Bachiller

Sergio Garcia will play in front of his home crowds for the first time as the Masters Champion when the returning hero plays a special role at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.

The 13-time European Tour winner and his charitable foundation host this week's event at Real Club Valderrama and, with World Number Five Jon Rahm making his first appearance on home soil as a professional, the Spanish crowds are expected to flock to watch the local superstars in action.

Garcia has an incredible record at the famous venue - which 20 years ago provided the backdrop for a memorable European victory in The Ryder Cup - boasting one win, three runner up finishes and seven further top tens.

The 37 year old cannot get wait to get started on the course he described as his all-time favourite as he aims to rekindle the form which has earned him two European Tour titles this season, his victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February preceding his Masters triumph in April.

Andrew Johnston, meanwhile, returns to the course upon which he won his maiden European Tour title last year, while multiple Major winners Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer and José María Olazábal, as well as the 2016 Masters winner Danny Willett, are also in the field.

Player quotes

Sergio Garcia

"I'm very proud this week. To have a tournament hosted by your foundation is something amazing but to have it at Valderrama is spectacular. We're really happy, really proud of it and hopefully it will be a great tournament which everybody will enjoy.

"This is my favourite golf course ever and it's the kind of golf course that even though it's not long, it challenges you. It's tight and it's always asking you to hit good shots, all kinds of shots. They are small greens so your iron play has to be spot on and if you miss the greens it's tricky. It's just a great, solid golf course.

"I'm sure the support will be great this week. Obviously I played in Munich earlier this year and it was the first time I played in Europe since the Masters and I got an amazing reception, so I'm sure this week will be no different.

"The pressure is still the same this week as any week, trying to do well and yes maybe trying to perform in front of my home crowds. It's as simple as that."

Jon Rahm

"It's certainly a different feel this week. I haven't been able to see any crowds yet because it's been closed to the public. There have been some pictures floating around on social media and obviously I've been waiting for this moment for ten years. The photo is of me waiting for some autographs right here in Valderrama and it was Henrik Stenson who signed my shirt.

"It's funny how I've come from that ten years ago to now being able to compete alongside him and accomplish the things I've accomplished so it's quite a special feeling to be back.

"This tournament is huge for Spanish golf. We all know that Spain needs a tournament and golf is a big sport in Spain, it deserves a lot better in golf. It's the last tournament of the regular season for the European Tour and it's hard to get support.

"Hopefully with Sergio's support and my support we can get Spain back on the map in golf like it used to be, like it used to have seven European Tour events. Hopefully we can help out and boost Spanish golf in a forward direction.

"This venue is very important for Spanish golf. In the past it did a great job putting Spanish golf on the map, they made it an iconic golf course. Then the Ryder Cup came along and made a huge impact in Spain, that's the reason why I'm playing golf."

What the players said about Valderrama

Sergio García: "Each hole in Valderrama has its own attraction and I like them all, because they force you to keep thinking and stay focused from the first to the last shot. It is a very demanding course that doesn't give you any breaks. You need to put the ball in the right places and keep the errors to the minimum, but you are bound to make errors, so patience is key at Valderrama. You must respect this course or it will turn against you at any moment. One of the things I like most is that it allows you to use all the clubs in the bag."

Jon Rahm: "Valderrama is the dream course to make my professional debut in Spain, mainly because of its significance for Spanish and European golf. It has a huge history, and Patiño did a great job at creating one of the best golf courses in the world. I couldn't think of anything more special than making my first appearance in front of the Spanish public at an Andalucía Valderrama Masters. I've been dreaming for ages for this moment and hope to give a good show."

José María Olazábal: "Without being long, Valderrama is one of the most demanding courses in the world; technical and narrow with small greens. You must keep perfectly focused from the first tee shot to the last putt. I know no other course that doesn't allow for a moment of relaxation in 18 holes. It's a great golf course and always in top condition."

Pablo Larrazábal: "Valderrama is the best course I have ever played. It's very demanding off the tee and into the greens. I haven't scored well lately, but my game is in good shape, so maybe coming here will give me the motivation I need to do things well. The course is not set up as difficult as last year, but the greens are as small as ever and you need to strike the ball really well if you want to score".

Álvaro Quirós: "Valderrama is not long, but you need to put the ball in the right spot on every single shot. It's no good to put it within ten yards; you must put it exactly where the course demands.

Obviously, this is not my style of play, but I like to practice there because it tests my patience and pushes me mentally to the limit. It is great practice, and I am very grateful to be able to practice on a course to be proud of."

Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño: "I love Valderrama, it's my second home. I have spent many summers here and I have many good friends. It's a pleasure to return to one of the best courses in Europe, or even in the world. I look forward to performing well this week. Although my results are not yet as good as I would like, I feel that I am getting closer. I would love to up there on Sunday. I have always dreamt of winning a European Tour event, or at least to challenge for the title - hopefully this will be the week."

Alejandro Cañizares: "I practice here when I am at home, so I know the course well and I love it. I have few expectations, I just want to play my own game and do my best. I feel more confident and I am playing better, so why not? a good week here would be a great help. I'll be at home, and I will have my family there, my friends will come and It's going to be a lot of fun. If the wind blows as usual it will be tricky, but I want to enjoy my week."

 

Strong international field at the Andalucía Valderrama Masters

Soren Kjeldsen14-4-16©RCValderrama ©
Soren Kjeldsen14-4-16©RCValderrama

By María Acacia López-Bachiller

A strong field of international players will challenge this week for the Andalucía Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio García Foundation under the sponsorship of the Junta de Andalucía with the support of Heineken, Solán de Cabras, Rolex, La Reserva de Sotogrande, Osborne and Volvo. Tournament host Sergio García will defend his title both against European Tour seasoned champions and rising stars.     

Five Major champions will tee it off on Thursday at Real Club Valderrama. Spaniards Sergio García (current Masters champion) and José María Olazábal (1994 and 1999 Masters), will be joined by Padraig Harrington (2007 and 2008 Open Championship and 2008 US PGA Championship), Danny Willet (2016 Masters) and Martin Kaymer (2010 US PGA Championship and 2014 US Open).

This season's European Tour winners will arrive in full form, including England's Matt Wallace (Open de Portugal); Italian duo Edoardo Molinari (Trophee Hassan II) and Renato Paratore (Nordea Masters); American Julian Suri (Made in Denmark); France's Romain Wattel (KLM Open) or Argentina's Andrés Romero (BMW International Open).

Valderrama has attracted a strong Swedish contingent led by Robert Karlsson, Europe's number one in 2008 with 11 European Tour titles to his name, joined by fellow countrymen Peter Hanson, Niclas Fasth and Johan Edfords.

As for England, Andrew Johnston, winner of last year's Open de España at Valderrama in extremely tough conditions will look to challenge again after recovering from shoulder injury; Matt Wallace, arrives fresh from a fourth-place finish in Italy; James Morrison, Andy Sullivan, Lee Slattery or Robert Rock are other big English names challenging for the title.

Dane Søren Kjeldsen has a great record in Valderrama - winner of the 2008 Volvo Masters, tied 2nd in the 2010 Andalucía Valderrama Masters, tied 4th in lasts year's Open de España. Two of his four European Tour titles have come in Andalusia (2008 Volvo Masters and 2009 Open de Andalucía).

Ireland's Shane Lowry, winner of the 2015 WGC - Bridgestone Invitational, Holland's Joos Luiten, runner up to Johnston at the 2017 Open de España, Italy's Mateo Manassero, Welsh duo Bradley Dredge and Jamie Donaldson or Frenchmen Raphaël Jacquelin and Grégory Bourdy are sure to give a good show to the fans this week.

 

Kaymer stars again in Valderrama field

Martin Kaymer©RCValderrama ©
Martin Kaymer©RCValderrama

by María Acacia López-Bachiller

Germany's Martin Kaymer, the last entry to the Andalucía Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio García Foundation to be held at Real Club Valderrama from October 19-22 sponsored by the Autonomous Government of Andalusia, joins a list of Major winners featuring José María Olazábal, Sergio García, Padraig Harrington and Danny Willett.

The two-time Major winner returns for the second successive season to one of his favourite courses "one of the most iconic golf courses in Europe". Last year he challenged for the title entering the final round one shot off the lead, but eventually finished for a share of sixth place as Englishman Andrew Johnston lifted the Open de España title.

He was also tied sixth at the 2007 Volvo Masters; he finished 21st at the 2010 Andalucía Valderrama Masters and 23rd the following year as he celebrated the victory of his good friend Sergio García, next week's defending champion and tournament host.

Kaymer is a self-declared lover of Spain - including Iberian ham - and has often expressed his admiration for the prestigious southern Spanish layout: "If there is one course I can play for the rest of my life it would be Valderrama - it's so pretty. But you should never underestimate this golf course. It is a tricky golf course that you need a lot of respect for. The greens are very small so it is all about ball striking - it is never going to be a putting competition. You have to be very strategic and I really enjoy that. I've done well here in the past too, so those are all good reasons to come back."

Martin Kaymer (Dusseldorf 28/12/1984) turned professional at age 20 in 2005. His 23 professional wins include two Majors, the 2010 US PGA Championship and the 2014 US Open, as well as the 2014 The Players Championship, the flagship event of the PGA Tour. In 2010 he was crowned Europe's number one and he led the Official World Ranking for eight weeks in 2011.

The four-time Ryder Cup player - winner in 2010, 2012 and 2014 - famously sank the all-important putt for Europe in Medinah. "Olazábal came up to me on 16 and said, 'Martin, we need your point, but do not know how... win it!' And I did. This is a feeling that's not describable," he recalls

Besides Kaymer, a strong field of European Tour champions will challenge for the title, including Jamie Donaldson, Niclas Fasth, Anders Hansen, Peter Hanson, Padraig Harrington, David Howell, Raphaël Jacquelin, Andrew Johnston, Robert Karlsson, Søren Kjeldsen, Shane Lowrie, Matteo Manassero, Edoardo Molinari, James Morrison, Thorbjørn Olesen, Renato Paratore, Andrés Romero, Julian Suri, Romain Wattel, Danny Willett...

15 Spanish players will make up the home contingent for this third edition of the Andalucía Valderrama Masters: Pep Anglés, Jorge Campillo, Alejandro Cañizares, Nacho Elvira, Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño, Sergio García, Pablo Larrazábal, José María Olazábal, Adrián Otaegui, Marcos Pastor, Carlos Pigem, Álvaro Quirós, Jon Rahm, Eduardo de la Riva, Samuel del Val. 

 

Great memories for Beef at Valderrama

García y Johnston©RCValderrama ©Michelle Chaplow
García y Johnston©RCValderrama

by María Acacia López-Bachiller

Andrew Johnston will make his return to the scene of his maiden European Tour victory next week when the fan favourite known as 'Beef' joins Sergio García, Jon Rahm and a host of stars at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio García Foundation.

Johnston made his breakthrough last year at the famous Real Club Valderrama when he finished one stroke clear of five-time European Tour winner Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, on a one over par total, to take the Open de España title, while home hero García finished in third place on three over.

The Englishman's winning interview became a viral video around the world as he discussed his victory party plans, and he has since become one of the most popular figures in the game thanks to his friendly demeanour and sense of humour.

Johnston divided his 2017 season between the European Tour and the US PGA Tour and has struggled with a shoulder injury lately, making his return to action at this week's Italian Open.

While his return to Valderrama will not quite count as a title defence, as the 1997 Ryder Cup venue is hosting a different tournament this time around, the 28 year old is looking forward to going back.

"I can't wait to go back to Valderrama," said Johnston. "My win there last year was such a huge moment in my career and to do it on one of the most famous courses in Europe just made it even more special.

"It is such a tough course but players still love playing it. It is not all about birdies like most other courses and you really have to think your way around. It has such an incredible history and I think it is great that the European Tour is going back there.

"I have been struggling with an injury lately but hopefully a return to the course where I claimed my first European Tour victory can give me a boost and I can challenge for the title again."

Johnston is not the only 'de facto defending champion' this week as the tournament host and current Masters Champion García heads the field having won this tournament the last time it was played back in 2011.

He plays on home soil for the first time since his famous triumph at Augusta National in April, when he overcame Englishman Justin Rose in a play-off.

Rahm, meanwhile, will make his first appearance in Spain since turning professional after a meteoric rise to the top of the game. The 22 year old joined the paid ranks in 2016 and claimed his maiden professional title on the US PGA Tour in January.

He then emulated his hero Seve Ballesteros in July when he stormed to a dominant victory and his first European Tour win at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation.

Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington is also in the field, playing on Spanish soil for the first time in nine years.

 

In support of a good cause at the Andalucía Valderrama Masters

Thursday October 12, 2017

Sergio García©RCValderrama ©
Sergio García©RCValderrama

by María Acacia López-Bachiller

The Andalucía Valderrama Masters to be held at Real Club Valderrama from October 19-22, sponsored by the Autonomous Government of Andalusia, will contribute to a good cause promoted by tournament host Sergio García through his Foundation. All funds raised during the tournament week will go to an interior design project aiming at humanizing the X-ray unit of the Hospital Universitario La Paz with the objective of improving the emotional well-being of patients and their families.

The unit will be redesigned into a welcoming, bright and relaxing environment through the choice of appropriate materials, colours and images. In addition to caring for individuals, the project is environmentally friendly, as the improved lighting system will result in a 60 percent saving in power consumption.

Sergio García outlines the benefits of this initiative: "As golfers, we value the positive influence of pleasant surroundings. We are lucky enough to spend many hours in contact with nature and we become aware of the need to protect the environment. We like the idea of humanizing hospitals. We would like to make it easier for people who are going through tough times by providing them with pleasant surroundings that transmit positive vibes."

This will not be the first time that Sergio supports a good cause in his role of tournament host. At last year's Open de España he raised the sum of €65,480 for the Spanish Cancer Association (AECC) in order to provide accommodation for the families of cancer patients during treatment away from home.

Garcia set up his charitable foundation named after himself in 2002 for the purpose of contributing to the social inclusion of economically-deprived children through social assistance benefits and the practice of sport as free-time activity. The Foundation supports, on a regular or an occasional basis, a large variety of NGOs and humanitarian associations.

Through his foundation, Sergio has been one of the key drivers of Spanish adaptive golf. Together with the Deporte y Desafío Foundation, they conducted 23 adaptive golf clinics throughout Spain attended by more than 700 disabled persons.

In 2012 he founded the "Sergio García Junior Academy-PGA Catalunya Resort" with the double aim of nurturing the best young golfing talent for the future and making golf accessible to children with disabilities.

The attractive initiatives organized by Sergio's Foundation include golf and football charity days mixing celebrities with football and tennis stars; the interactive children's story Once upon a time there was Golf in collaboration with PlayTales; or inviting six youngsters from his native Castellón to The Doral-Publix Junior Golf Classic, the world's top junior golf event, as well as collaborating with The Junior Players Championship-American Junior Golf Association.

Sergio García has always expressed his gratitude to life and his desire to give back to society: "Golf and life have given me a lot and I owe it to society. I wanted to give back, so with the support of my family I decided to start a foundation in order to help disadvantaged persons or people with problems. I have been very lucky in life and I want to help give others the opportunities that I had."


Harrington to make Valderrama return

Monday October 9, 2017

Padraig Harrington©Getty Images ©
Padraig Harrington©Getty Images

by María Acacia López-Bachiller

Padraig Harrington will play on Spanish soil for the first time in nine years when the three-time Major winner joins Masters champion Sergio García and World Number Five Jon Rahm at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio García Foundation.

The Irishman has not played competitively in Spain since his double major-winning season in 2008, when he claimed a top 15 finish at the Volvo Masters on the famous Real Club Valderrama course in Andalucia, three months after winning the US PGA Championship, his third and most recent Major title.

Harrington has enjoyed great success in Spain, having claimed his maiden European Tour victory in the Peugeot Spanish Open back in 1996 at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, before earning another win four years later -BBVA Open Turespaña Masters- in the capital city of Madrid.

His third and latest Spanish triumph came on the idyllic Andalucian region in 2001 when he overcame his compatriot Paul McGinley by one shot at Montecastillo Golf Resort.

The 46 year old's most recent European Tour victory came on the Iberian Peninsula, at the 2016 Portugal Masters, and he will be confident of adding to his title haul when he returns to Spain the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, which is sponsored by the Autonomous Government of Andalusia, from October 19-22.

"I'm really looking forward to returning to Spain and especially to Valderrama," said the Dubliner. "It's one of those really special golf courses and obviously has a great history, being a former Ryder Cup venue.

"I've always enjoyed playing in Spain and it's always nice to go back to a country where you've been successful. The Spanish fans have always been great to me and I think that's one of the reasons why I've managed to win three times there.

"I'm sure they will come out in force again at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters and it is sure to be a great week."

The return of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters will see tournament host García play on home soil for the first time since his famous Masters Tournament triumph in April, when he overcame Englishman Justin Rose in a play-off. The 37 year old is a defending champion of sorts, having won the event the last time it was played back in 2011.

Rahm, meanwhile, will make his first appearance in Spain since turning professional after a meteoric rise to the top of the game. The 22 year old turned professional in 2016 and claimed his maiden professional title on the USA's PGA Tour in January.

He then emulated his hero Seve Ballesteros in July when he stormed to a dominant victory and his first European Tour win at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation.

 

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Since the sixth season of the Costa del Sol-based circuit was launched in October 2016, under new ownership, the podiums have included veteran pros recapturing their winning form of previous years...More>

 

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