Jorge Campillo, co-leader after the first round
Real Club Valderrama maintained its reputation as one of the toughest stops on the European Tour as just five players broke par during the first round of the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters.
Four competitors share the lead on two under par as the field battled windy conditions in Sotogrande at the notoriously tricky 1997 Ryder Cup venue.
Scotsman Connor Syme continued the strong form he showed over the UK Swing and was the first player to post a score of 69 after finishing his round with three birdies in a row from the 16th hole. He was joined on that number by Spaniard Jorge Campillo, Guido Migliozzi of Italy and American John Catlin.
Spain’s Pep Angles sits one stroke back on one under par while six golfers share sixth place after carding level par rounds of 71, including last week’s ISPS Handa UK Championship winner Rasmus Højgaard and his Danish compatriot Søren Kjeldsen, who won the 2008 Volvo Masters on this golf course.
Jorge Campillo: “I played very good on the front nine, and the back nine I kept it steady there. Just a shame about the bogey on 17 but overall it was a good round.
“I put the ball in play off the tee quite well and I hit good iron shots, my short game wasn’t as good as it has been in the last few months and my putting was good too. Everything was good besides the short game – I had a couple of up-and-downs where I would normally hit it close and I didn’t but overall it was good.
"I am normally a patient man, especially on this golf course – you have to be - and par is a good score on this golf course so it’s easier for me to be patient on these kinds of courses.”
Connor Syme: “I did play well on the back nine, I missed it in the good spots – as silly as it sounds, if you’re going to miss it in certain trees you’re better off being in the right ones, so you’re always taking that line where you’re taking that second shot.
“So I worked my round, I didn’t hit a great tee shot on 16, got a little bit fortunate but I missed it on the right side and hit a nice shot in and holed a nice putt, same on 17. It’s just about managing your ball, that’s so important around here. I was happy with the back nine, to be honest I didn’t know how I was scoring. It’s one of those days where you’re just getting on and grinding and it’s nice to see a few drop at the end.”
Guido Migliozzi: “It’s been a great day of golf. It’s no joke around here, Valderrama on a windy day, so I’m happy about my game and happy about the result. This is a paradise so I’m happy to be here and happy to play well.
“I need more consistency from my results. I’ve been struggling a bit on the first tournaments back but now I’m working hard and trying to improve day by day and the results will come.”
John Catlin: “I hit a couple of shots really close. On one I think I was two feet away, and then on the par three I hit one to about two feet as well. The par five I hit it up greenside in two and was able to chip one down there about five, six feet and holed it. Really it was my approach shots. Didn't give myself any long putts and was able to hole them.
“This is already an incredibly difficult golf course. Then you add 35km winds, tough pins and very firm and fast greens. I'm very happy to be in the red. That was my goal at the start of the day, to have achieved that is very nice.”
The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, an event in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai made possible by the essential contribution of the Real Club Valderrama, is sponsored by Estrella Damm and the Consejería de Turismo, Regeneración, Justicia y Administración Local of the Junta de Andalucía, jointly funded by the EU, declared Event of Exceptional Public Interest by the Spanish Government. This tournament is also supported by Rolex, Exterior Plus, Santander Private Banking and Shell. Callaway, Coca-Cola, Enterprise, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, Marca, Maui Jim, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Riversa, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.