Ryder Cup heroes Thomas Bjørn and Lee Westwood will return to the venue where they made their debuts in the biennial contest between Europe and the United States, confirming they will tee it up in the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation from April 30 – May 3.
The pair made their Ryder Cup bows at Real Club Valderrama in 1997, when Europe, captained by the late, great Seve Ballesteros, retained the coveted trophy with a 14½ – 13½ victory.
They contributed 3.5 points to the European cause, as Westwood earned two points alongside Nick Faldo in foursomes and four-ball matches, and Bjørn earned a half in the Sunday singles against Justin Leonard, adding to the point he won with Ian Woosnam against Leonard and Brad Faxon.
Westwood is bidding for a European record-equalling 11th Ryder Cup appearance at Whistling Straits later this year. The 46-year-old is just outside the qualification spots for Padraig Harrington’s side, but is currently second on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex after his victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA in January.
“There isn’t much you can say about Valderrama that hasn’t already been said,” said Westwood. “It’s a fantastic golf course, and 1997 was very special because I made my Ryder Cup debut there and then won the Volvo Masters a few weeks later.
“It is an incredible test of golf, and it’s testament to Robert Trent Jones’ design that it has remained unchanged over the last 30 years. It’s a course that we all enjoy playing, and credit goes to Sergio Garcia and his foundation for helping to develop this tournament over the last four years.”
His close friend Bjørn is also looking forward to returning to the venue where his Ryder Cup journey began, culminating in his victorious captaincy two years ago at Le Golf National, Paris.
“Valderrama is an excellent golf course, and a test which we all enjoy returning to,” said the 15-time European Tour winner, who celebrated his 49th birthday earlier this month. “To make my Ryder Cup debut in a side captained by Seve, in his home country, and at a world-class venue, was incredibly special.”
The pair will join a host of other European Tour stars at Real Club Valderrama as the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters returns to the famed venue in April.