Estrella Damm Andalucía Masters
35 years since its foundation and 25 individual events of the European Tour held on its pristine course. But numbers fall short when trying to convey the meaning of the Real Club Valderrama for Andalusian, Spanish and European golf.
Valderrama was founded in 1985 thanks to the efforts and vision of Jaime Ortiz Patiño, who hired top designer Robert Trent Jones Sr to renovate the old Las Aves course and the surrounding land with the intention of creating the best golf course in continental Europe. Valderrama debuted as a European Tour venue soon after that, since in 1988 it held the Volvo Masters, an elite field event that brought the curtain down on the European Tour season.
Taking a quick look at its winner list (from Sir Nick Faldo, its first champion, to world-class golfers such as Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, among others) it’s easy to understand its importance. On the fairways and greens of Valderrama, unforgettable moments such as Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie’s draw in 2002, Miguel Ángel Jiménez’s albatross in 1994 or the exciting playoffs between Ian Poulter and Sergio García in 2004 or Fredrik Jacobson with Carlos Rodiles the previous year. In total, 16 Volvo Masters in which the Real Club Valderrama acted as a fair but demanding judge.
After being elevated to a well-deserved glory and gaining international prominence thanks to the 1997 Ryder Cup in which Seve Ballesteros captained the European team to victory, the Sotogrande club hosted another key event on the international schedule, the WGC American Express Championship. The field, again, was outstanding. In 1999, the number one in the world, Tiger Woods, needed a playoff to beat a tough rival carried by the cheering locals, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, while in 2000 Mike Weir, a Masters winner, conquered the title.
The Andalucía Masters, currently sponsored by Estrella Damm and the Junta de Andalucía, followed up with the great tradition of elite tournaments at Valderrama and Graeme McDowell, who had won the 2010 US Open winner, beat the field that year. Golf fans had to wait until 2011 for the first Spanish victory at Real Club Valderrama when Sergio García managed to overcome the resistance of Miguel Ángel Jiménez.
In 2016 the Open de España took over and the field faced a course that, as always, made no concessions. This time, fan-favourite Andrew Johnston won the title but could not beat Valderrama because he finished over par, something that had not happened since Sandy Lyle won with +3 in the 1992 Volvo Masters.
In the following two years, Sergio García continued his love affair with Real Club Valderrama by winning two consecutive Andalucía Masters titles, becoming the first player to obtain three individual victories at Valderrama. The Borriol golfer accumulates 14 top ten in 15 appearances at Valderrama (2 in the WGC American Express Championship, 7 in the Volvo Masters and 5 in the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters), an impressive record.
In 2019 the South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout broke Sergio García’s streak and managed to hold off the assault of the many Spanish players fighting for the title since five Spaniards finished in the top 7 of the event.
The 2020 winner, therefore, will have the honor of being crowned in the 25th European Tour event played at Valderrama. Without a question, he will be a worthy heir to the tradition that so many illustrious international champions have written with their talent in one of the best courses in the world.
Spanish star Jon Rahm will be in the marquee group on Thursday when the US PGA Tour resumes officially for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak halted golf around the world three months ago.
The three leading players in the world ranking (which was frozen when the main global tours went into hibernation) will be the main featured group in the first tournament back, the Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial in Fort Worth, starting on Thursday (11 June) – albeit without fans allowed on the course.
Rory McIlroy (1), Jon Rahn (2) and Brooks Koepka (3) also played together in the first round of the 2020 Players Championship, after which the event was cancelled and the subsequent Tour schedule put on hold.
The omens are good for 25-year-old Rahm, if he can recapture that day’s form: he carded 69, while Koepka had a 70 and McIlroy a 72.
Apart from McIlroy, Rahm and Koepka, other star groups will be Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose, and Phil Mickelson, Gary Woodland and defending champion Kevin Na.
The overall strength of the field is highlighted by the fact that, in total, 101 of the 148 players have won on Tour.
In all, 15 of the world’s top 20 ranked golfers will be teeing up in Texas. Among those missing are Adam Scott (6), Tommy Fleetwood (10) and Tiger Woods (11). Scott has expressed his concerns with the tour’s COVID-19 testing protocol, and is not expected to return to competition for two months, in the lead-up to the newly-scheduled majors. UK-based Fleetwood explained in May that the quarantine times for international visitors would also most likely keep him away from the US for an extended period.
“It isn’t impossible for me to play,” Fleetwood told Golf Digest. “Far from it. But two weeks of quarantine at both ends of a trip across the Atlantic is a huge issue. That factor really made my decision for me. To go over and play in the three events scheduled for June would eat up seven weeks of my life. That’s more than double what a trip like that would normally take. I wouldn’t want to be away from my wife and kids for that long.”
Woods, meanwhile, has only played once professionally at the Colonial, finishing joint fourth in the 1997 event.
The US PGA Championship, at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, has been moved from May to 6-9 August; the US Open until after the official 2019-2020 season concludes, from June to September 17 to 20 at Winged Foot in New York; and the US Masters at Augusta, normally in April, to an unprecedented late-autumn date, 12-15 November.
The Tokyo Olympics (now including a golf competition, re-introduced in 2016) have been postponed until 2021; and a decision is still pending on the Ryder Cup, due to be held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from 25 to 27 September.
European Tour Update
The European Tour plans to resume its 2020 season with the launch of a new six-week “UK Swing”. Suspended on 8 March due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Tour is scheduled to return to action in July and continue to December.
All tournaments will initially be played behind closed doors, and all will be “subject to stringent safety and testing protocols set out in the Tour’s comprehensive Health Strategy, which will continue to evolve, aligned with international government guidance and health guidelines”.
The “UK Swing” begins with the Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood, at Close House, near Newcastle, from Wednesday 22 July to Saturday 25 July, followed by the English Open (Marriott Forest of Arden), English Championship (Marriott Hanbury Manor), Celtic Classic and Wales Open (both at The Celtic Manor Resort in Newport) and finally the UK Championship (The Belfry).
The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation, due to be held from 29 April to 3 May at Royal Valderrama, has not been rescheduled in 2020.
Resumption of Women’s Tours
Both the US LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour were also forced to cancel tournaments from March to June.
The LPGA is scheduled to resume on 23 July with the Marathon Classic in Ohio; while the LET is due to return to action with the Ladies Scottish Open from 13 to 16 August. This follows the announcement this week that the Evian Championship – one of five women’s majors, and due to be played from 6 August at the Evian Resort Golf Club in France – has been postponed until next year.
In Spain, the La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational (scheduled to be played in May) and the Mediterranean Ladies Open (Terramar Golf Club in July) have been “postponed”, but the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open (at a club to be confirmed) is still scheduled for 6 to 9 November.
When the event returned to the Tour calendar in 2017, he won again – and he successfully defended his title in 2018. In addition, he has 10 other top-10 finishes from 14 appearances at a course he says is his favourite in the world. After his first round this week in the newly named and upgraded Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, García said, “I love this place, there is no doubt about that. It kind of has something that helps me.”
For 2019, he was back in familiar territory, second one stroke behind Frenchman Victor Perez after a first round five-under 66. He found things more difficult on the second day, but a one-over 72 still left him with a share of second place, albeit four strokes adrift of the halfway leader, South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Keeping him company, and the home country fans even happier, on 138 were local (Guadiaro) star Álvaro Quirós and Adri Arnous.
The highest world-ranked player in the field (11th), Jon Rahm was joint 23rd after opening 69-72 – a significant improvement on his debut in the 2017 edition, when he missed the cut in his first start as a professional on home Spanish soil.
Of the rest of the field, 2016 Spanish Open winner (also at Valderrama) Andrew “Beef” Johnston (70-73) had a share of 42nd place, while the only Spaniard to win (so far) on the European Tour this season, Jorge Campillo (73-71), was 55th with another local-based Spaniard, Alejandro Cañizares (71-73), right on the weekend cut-off mark (two-over 144).
Notables missing the cut included Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño (74-71), 2008 European Tour number one Robert Karlsson (73-72) and José María Olazábal (71-77) – as well as last week’s winner in Germany, Andrea Pavan (73-73).
After his second round, García said, “Obviously it was very difficult this afternoon; the greens were very firm and it got quite windy, more than yesterday afternoon. I just didn’t make any putts, but I felt like I played really well under the conditions and the difficulty of the course. The way the course is playing you have to pick your spots, there are some good spots where you can be aggressive, but you also have to be a little bit careful. It’s always great to play in Spain. Playing in front of Spanish people is amazing; I always enjoy it, it’s one of my favourite things, and thanks to that I’ve been very successful in Spain.”
We want to thank all the participants for helping make the contest a success and congratulations to the winners who will be able to attend the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters with 2 adult tickets valid for any day of the tournament to redeem through a promotional code on the ticket sales website.
Winner of the Facebook giveaway :
Angeles Nacher Piera
Winner of the Instagram giveaway :
Winner of the Twitter giveaway :
Winners of the Golf in Spain giveaway :
- Pascual Aguirre
- Rosa María Ruiz Cabral
Please contact us by private message within 24 hours (or call us on +952474848) to get your free access code. Otherwise we will pass the invitations to the alternate winners.
We are giving away two sets of 2 adult tickets between our clients
We want to reward your loyalty. If you have made any reservation with us over the past 18 months, register here to participate in our raffle. We are giving away two sets of 2 adult tickets valid for any day of the tournament. You can also follow our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account where we will make a second giveaway in a few days. Check our package with accommodation in case you want to convert it into a golf break.