Spanish Players

García Continues Love Affair with Valderrama

There is something almost inevitable about Sergio García’s annual sojourn at Royal Valderrama Club. Inevitable as in… who’s going to finish second? In 2011, he became the first Spaniard to win a European Tour event at Valderrama – after 16 Volvo Masters, two World Golf Championships and one Andalucía Masters.

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.”


Sergio García: “Valderrama is a very special place for me”

The Real Club Valderrama will stage the third edition of the Andalucía Valderrama Masters, the last European Tour stop on European soil before heading for China, Turkey, South Africa and Dubai. From October 19-22, the event will be sponsored by the Autonomous Government of Andalusia with the support of the Sergio García Foundation.

Sergio is a big fan of Valderrama. “Valderrama is a very special place for me, full of good memories – obviously the best when I finally managed to win in 2011. It is one of my favourite courses, one of the best in the world, and I always enjoy playing there.”

The Masters champion is hosting a European Tour event at Valderrama for the second consecutive year.

“I am delighted to support the Andalucía Valderrama Masters through my Foundation. As the tournament host, I would love to see everyone come and enjoy a great event and a wonderful occasion for all the Spanish players.

“The course is always in top condition, with fast greens and superb maintenance. At last year’s Open de España we saw a big improvement in playability with the pruning of many cork trees, particularly on holes 8, 13 and 18.

“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.”

Including his 2011 win, García has an outstanding record at Valderrama: 7th at the 1999 WGC-American Express; 5th at the 2000 WGC-American Express; 7th at the 2002 and 2003 Volvo Masters; runner-up at three consecutive Volvo Masters from 2004 to 2006; 34th at the 2007 Volvo Masters; 4th at the 2008 Volvo Masters; 11th at the inaugural Andalucía Masters in 2010, winner in 2011 and 3rd at the 2016 Open de España.

“Last year I had another chance of winning at the Open de España. In the end I didn’t make it, but it was a positive week because I kept trying up to the last putt – I gave it my best shot. I enjoyed being the tournament host and felt proud every time I saw the name of my Foundation on the course. We had a fairly good gallery and many visitors to our stand. I want to thank them all because we raised 65.480 euro for the Spanish Cancer Association of Castellón. The money was used to rent some apartments for the families of cancer patients who can’t afford them, so the family can be together during treatment.”

Sergio García, supported by his family, set up his charitable Foundation in 2002 for the purpose of contributing to the social inclusion of economically deprived children and youth through social assistance benefits and the practice of sport as a free-time activity. The Foundation supports on a regular or occasional basis, a variety of initiatives in favour of persons with disabilities. The Sergio García Foundation and the Deporte y Desafío Foundation joined forces in 2003 with the objective of introducing adaptive golf in Spain. They developed together a twofold programme aimed, firstly, at making golf accessible to people with disabilities, thus helping them to be socially integrated. The second aim was to promote adaptive golf throughout the whole of Spain by means of specific training courses directed at golf teaching professionals. The Spanish Golf Federation as well as the Autonomic Federations joined the initiative.

The Real Club Valderrama will stage the third edition of the Andalucía Valderrama Masters, the last European Tour stop on European soil before heading for China, Turkey, South Africa and Dubai. From October 19-22, the event will be sponsored by the Autonomous Government of Andalusia with the support of the Sergio García Foundation.

Sergio is a big fan of Valderrama. “Valderrama is a very special place for me, full of good memories – obviously the best when I finally managed to win in 2011. It is one of my favourite courses, one of the best in the world, and I always enjoy playing there.”

The Masters champion is hosting a European Tour event at Valderrama for the second consecutive year.

“I am delighted to support the Andalucía Valderrama Masters through my Foundation. As the tournament host, I would love to see everyone come and enjoy a great event and a wonderful occasion for all the Spanish players.

“The course is always in top condition, with fast greens and superb maintenance. At last year’s Open de España we saw a big improvement in playability with the pruning of many cork trees, particularly on holes 8, 13 and 18.

“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.”

Including his 2011 win, García has an outstanding record at Valderrama: 7th at the 1999 WGC-American Express; 5th at the 2000 WGC-American Express; 7th at the 2002 and 2003 Volvo Masters; runner-up at three consecutive Volvo Masters from 2004 to 2006; 34th at the 2007 Volvo Masters; 4th at the 2008 Volvo Masters; 11th at the inaugural Andalucía Masters in 2010, winner in 2011 and 3rd at the 2016 Open de España.

“Last year I had another chance of winning at the Open de España. In the end I didn’t make it, but it was a positive week because I kept trying up to the last putt – I gave it my best shot. I enjoyed being the tournament host and felt proud every time I saw the name of my Foundation on the course. We had a fairly good gallery and many visitors to our stand. I want to thank them all because we raised 65.480 euro for the Spanish Cancer Association of Castellón. The money was used to rent some apartments for the families of cancer patients who can’t afford them, so the family can be together during treatment.”

Sergio García, supported by his family, set up his charitable Foundation in 2002 for the purpose of contributing to the social inclusion of economically deprived children and youth through social assistance benefits and the practice of sport as a free-time activity. The Foundation supports on a regular or occasional basis, a variety of initiatives in favour of persons with disabilities. The Sergio García Foundation and the Deporte y Desafío Foundation joined forces in 2003 with the objective of introducing adaptive golf in Spain. They developed together a twofold programme aimed, firstly, at making golf accessible to people with disabilities, thus helping them to be socially integrated. The second aim was to promote adaptive golf throughout the whole of Spain by means of specific training courses directed at golf teaching professionals. The Spanish Golf Federation as well as the Autonomic Federations joined the initiative.

We have various packages with accommodation and tickets available for the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, including if you want something special, playing Valderrama the week after the event in similar conditions to the competition.


Miguel Ángel Jiménez junior starts as a Pro in Tenerife

The eldest son of veteran golfer Miguel Ángel Jiménez played his first tournament today as a professional at the Gran Premio Meliá Hacienda del Conde– Gambito Golf Tour in Buenavista, just a few days after getting his professional golf card.

Miguel Ángel Jiménez junior, who is currently contesting the European Senior Circuit and the US Champions Tour, is going to follow his family tradition, debuting as a Pro at the Meliá Hacienda del Conde – Gambito Golf Tour Grand Prix. On his trip to Tenerife he will play at Buenavista Golf, designed by Seve Ballesteros. An incredible par 72 course of 6019 meters and some nice holes close to the beach that offer the player a sensation of striking the ball towards the ocean and the waterfalls of holes 9 and 18.

22 year old Miguel Ángel Jiménez Bravo is a member of the PGA of Spain. Almost immediately after finishing his Finances career in Miami he became a profesional so that he could play his first official tournament today. ”Since he was a kid he had a passion for golf, You would always see him playing with a spoon and a golf ball” says his mother Montse, as she thinks back.


Olazábal returns at the British Masters

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José María Olazábal is set to make his long-awaited comeback from a protracted injury battle at this week’s British Masters supported by Sky Sports.

The two-time Major winner and victorious 2012 European Ryder Cup Captain will makes his first appearance in more than 18 months at The Grove, before heading straight to the Portugal Masters.

Olazábal has been forced to take several breaks from the game during his career due to an ongoing problem with rheumatoid arthritis that has flared up throughout his illustrious 31 years on the European Tour.

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New Member of Spain’s Ryder Cup Armada

©IGF
©IGF

It is now 37 years since the Great Britain & Ireland team was expanded to include continental Europeans in the biennial Ryder Cup competition against the United States. Severiano Ballesteros and Antonio Garrido became the first Spanish representatives in that historic 1979 match, helping to trigger a significant new dynamic in the tournament as the Americans’ domination waned and the Europeans gained the ascendency in the 21st century.

Since then, several of their compatriots have joined them in the Ryder Cup ranks: José María Cañizares and Manuel Piñero (1981), José Rivero (1983), José María Olazábal (1987), Ignacio Garrido (1997) and Miguel Ángel Jiménez (1999). Miguel Ángel Martin qualified for the 1997 match but was controversially dropped from the team due to injury concerns. Ballesteros (1997 at Valderrama) and Olazábal (2012 “Miracle at Medinah”) have also triumphed in the competition as non-playing captains.

Now their numbers have been boosted to 10, with Rafael Cabrera Bello set to make his debut at Hazeltine on 30 September. The Canary Isles star was delighted after securing his qualification for the 2016 event. “I grew up watching the Ryder Cup and it is without doubt the most exciting event in golf. I remember watching it on TV and dreaming of playing in it one day. Spain has such a strong connection and tradition with the Ryder Cup as well so it means a lot for me to make it.”

Cabrera-Bello will be joined by – and possibly form a pairs partnership with – Sergio García in Minnesota. García is a veteran of seven Ryder Cups and was one of Colin Montgomerie’s vice-captains at Celtic Manor in 2010, when Europe won by a point.

The other members of the 2016 European team, to be led by non-playing captain Darren Clarke, are: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett and Chris Wood as the automatic qualifiers, and wild-cards Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pieters and Lee Westwood.

The US team will be finalised during the FedEx Cup series on the PGA Tour, when Davis Love makes his four captain’s picks. The eight who have qualified automatically are: Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker.

Love’s vice-captains are Jim Furyk, Tom Lehman, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods; while Clarke will be supported by Thomas Bjorn, Padraig Harrington, Paul Lawrie, Ian Poulter and Sam Torrance.

 

 


A chat with Chema Olazabal

A few days ago José María Olazábal competed in the Lacoste Promesas at La Sella Golf Resort . The two time champion of the Augusta Masters, who holds more than 35 international titles, played in the Ryder Cup six times and who, as captain in 2012, engineered the so-called ‘miracle of Medinah’, took time out to chat to María Acacia Lopéz Bachiller about ‘the divine and the human.’

Chema Olazabal in La Sella “Golf’s critics and stigmas don’t bother me, each to his own, and as to what people end up doing, only time will tell” Photo courtesy of Jorge Andreu

He came ninth in the last tournament he competed in, the Hassan II Golf Trophy in Morocco (29/03/15), and shot a round of 71 in the second round of the Masters (10/04/15). “I put in a good performance in Morocco, but on the first day at Augusta it all unraveled. After the Masters, I felt quite stiff, I did some training the following Monday and went to the Spanish Open with reservations. I couldn’t play. I came home, started to see several doctors, had therapy… And here I am taking anti-inflammatories and steroids, unable to do anything. If I’m still it doesn’t bother me but when I try to move around, my shoulders, groin, abductor muscles and calves ache. It was the same thing that happened to me during the US Open in 2007: overnight my joints started to ache and I couldn’t move. There’s no need to keep going over and over it, what happened happened. It’s annoying, without a doubt, being at home not being able to move or live a vaguely normal life- it’s pretty tough. But just as last time it happened and I was able to bounce back from it, it could well be the case this time too. They say that these things come in waves, cycles… Right now I’ve got to be optimistic and be patient- it’s a slow process, that will take around five or six months. It’s the same old story, but what can you do?

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Jimenez named golfer of the month

The Spaniard made it a Hong Kong hat-trick with his one stroke win over Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed, adding to the titles he won at Fanling in 2005 and 2008, and in doing so became the oldest winner in European Tour history at 48 years and 318 days, beating the previous record held by Irishman Des Smyth who was 48 years and 34 days when he won the 2001 Madeira Islands Open.

The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month Panel, which comprises members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from television and radio, faced arguably their toughest decision in the history of the award.

Indeed Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, whose stunning victory in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai completed his coronation as European Number One; Englishman Ian Poulter, who won his second World Golf Championship in style at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China; and Italian Matteo Manassero, who became the first teenager in European Tour history to win three times following his triumph in the Barclays Singapore Open, all earned votes from the panel in a lively debate.

Also recognised were; Luke Donald for his triumph in the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan; Martin Kaymer for his win in the Nedbank Golf Challenge; Graeme McDowell for his success in the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual; and Henrik Stenson for his victory in the SA Open Championship, his first European Tour triumph for five years. But, in the end, it was Jiménez who held sway.

“When you look at the list of candidates for the November award it not only illustrates how hard a decision it was to make, but also just how healthy European Tour golf is at the moment,” said Michael Harris, the editor of Golf Monthly, and a member of the nine-strong panel.

“Every single one of them had a legitimate claim but in the end Miguel Angel Jiménez proved just too hard to resist. To win a tournament on The European Tour, given the growing standard out there, is hard enough at the best of times, but to do it at almost 49 years of age is remarkable.

“But Miguel is just that, remarkable. He is an entertainer and has such an infectious love of life and golf that I know a lot of people have been inspired to take up the game just by watching the fun he has on the course. His win in Hong Kong against a high-quality field was fantastic and, as a result, he is a worthy winner of the award for November.”


Olazabal officially appointed Ryder Cup captain

Jose María Olazabal was officially appointed today in Abu Dhabi as the next European team Ryder Cup captain for 2012.

The Spaniard, who is trying to return to the competition once again, said he has accepted the captain position but would still try to gain a place as a player during this season if he’s health problem allow him to.

David Love III is likely to be announced tomorrow as USA team captain.


Alvaro Quiros before playing at Valderrama

Extracted from ALvaro Quirós press conference just before the Andalucía Valderrama Masters, just a few minutes away from his home.
Tuesday October 26, 2010

“I am really looking forward to playing at home. It was great to play here in 2008, and this Valderrama Andalucía Masters will also be an important event.

For me, this will be an opportunity to recover my place in the world top 50, which I lost after Portugal, and also to get into the Race to Dubai.

The course is in great condition and the greens very fast… obviously this course is always perfect.

I spend here 3 of my 5 weekly practice days as I have a courtesy invitation. I do the rest of my practice at La Reserva and La Cañada.

I have been struggling with my game for the last 6 months, just trying to survive, but two weeks ago I started playing better, although my putting is a bit yippy.

I am comfortable at Valderrama and know the greens well. I should be able to finish in good position without putting too well. I am aware that the greens are difficult. I don’t think anybody can play 4 straight rounds without a problem on these greens. We often find ourselves putting defensively.

Everybody has good and bad moments on course, and it’s quite normal to get mad from time to time, but it’s important not to lose concentration.

Martin Kaymer is an incredible player. His mindset and his attitude on course are just perfect. His game is not spectacular, but his putting certainly is, at least for the last two years.

The world top 15 have very similar games. Martin and I are very different types of players: he is brainy, well aware of his limits, and he takes full advantage of his strong points. He is living a sweet moment, and that reflects on his demeanour, on the way he walks… I, on the contrary, have not found that sweet moment yet; I struggle, but I give it my best effort. He takes advantage of 90% of his potential, I don’t even reach 75%

I am now striking the ball better, but when I play well I don’t putt well, and when I putt well I don’t play well. I conclude that when a player manages to put these two most important parts of his game together he becomes world number one.

At present I am only trying to save shots. Olazábal explains it very well: on a rainy day you can only open your umbrella and wait for it to stop. That’s just what I am waiting for.

I don’t really know what I need to do to be up there… it’s frustrating not to be able to play to my full potential.

We live in the Tiger Woods era. He is just number one, the best player in the history of golf, no disrespect intended to his predecessors. I hope to see him back up there soon. He may have not won as many majors as others, but he has certainly done it in more difficult circumstances. He is the perfect modern golfer, a great sportsman and an athlete.

During the 1997 Ryder Cup I was only 14. I don’t remember any of the players, just Seve running around and trying to teach Lee Westwood to play out of a bunker. It impressed me how easy it seemed for Seve and how difficult for Lee, and I wondered which would I resemble.

In a way, I feel that I am a better player, but I am not enjoying my golf as I used to two years ago, not because I won but because my game felt good. It’s frustrating to know that you could go a step forward and not be able to do it.

I am ambitious, you must be ambitious to be up there, but now I don’t even enjoy my good moments… I always think that I have a lot to improve.”

Tuesday October 26, 2010

I am really looking forward to playing at home. It was great to play here in 2008, and this Valderrama Andalucía Masters will also be an important event.

For me, this will be an opportunity to recover my place in the world top 50, which I lost after Portugal, and also to get into the Race to Dubai.

The course is in great condition and the greens very fast… obviously this course is always perfect.

I spend here 3 of my 5 weekly practice days as I have a courtesy invitation. I do the rest of my practice at La Reserva and La Cañada.

I have been struggling with my game for the last 6 months, just trying to survive, but two weeks ago I started playing better, although my putting is a bit yippy.

I am comfortable at Valderrama and know the greens well. I should be able to finish in good position without putting too well. I am aware that the greens are difficult. I don’t think anybody can play 4 straight rounds without a problem on these greens. We often find ourselves putting defensively.

Everybody has good and bad moments on course, and it’s quite normal to get mad from time to time, but it’s important not to lose concentration.

Martin Kaymer is an incredible player. His mindset and his attitude on course are just perfect. His game is not spectacular, but his putting certainly is, at least for the last two years.

The world top 15 have very similar games. Martin and I are very different types of players: he is brainy, well aware of his limits, and he takes full advantage of his strong points. He is living a sweet moment, and that reflects on his demeanour, on the way he walks… I, on the contrary, have not found that sweet moment yet; I struggle, but I give it my best effort. He takes advantage of 90% of his potential, I don’t even reach 75%

I am now striking the ball better, but when I play well I don’t putt well, and when I putt well I don’t play well. I conclude that when a player manages to put these two most important parts of his game together he becomes world number one.

At present I am only trying to save shots. Olazábal explains it very well: on a rainy day you can only open your umbrella and wait for it to stop. That’s just what I am waiting for.

I don’t really know what I need to do to be up there… it’s frustrating not to be able to play to my full potential.

We live in the Tiger Woods era. He is just number one, the best player in the history of golf, no disrespect intended to his predecessors. I hope to see him back up there soon. He may have not won as many majors as others, but he has certainly done it in more difficult circumstances. He is the perfect modern golfer, a great sportsman and an athlete.

During the 1997 Ryder Cup I was only 14. I don’t remember any of the players, just Seve running around and trying to teach Lee Westwood to play out of a bunker. It impressed me how easy it seemed for Seve and how difficult for Lee, and I wondered which would I resemble.

In a way, I feel that I am a better player, but I am not enjoying my golf as I used to two years ago, not because I won but because my game felt good. It’s frustrating to know that you could go a step forward and not be able to do it.

I am ambitious, you must be ambitious to be up there, but now I don’t even enjoy my good moments… I always think that I have a lot to improve.”


Sergio Garcia back to golf at the Castello Masters

Any golfer that had the opportunity of watching live on a prime position, last week’s Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor would likely be desperate to play golf again. We are not sure if this is the case of Sergio Garcia, but the Castello Masters Costa Azahar that will be held at Sergio’s home “Club del Mediterraneo” from October 21st to 24th has confirmed that him as well as Jose María Olazabal will play it.

This will mean the return of Sergio to the competition on an event that will likely also benefit from the a good field coming to Valderrama the following week, something which is still slightly in the air.