European Tour

    The Open de España will take place in Madrid!

    It is one of the oldest and most celebrated tournaments in Europe and it will return to the European Tour in April. After its absence from the schedule in 2017, the 91st playing of the Open de España will take place at the Centro Nacional de Golf in Madrid from April 12-15.

    Pelley said: “I am delighted to announce the return of the Open de España to our schedule. The roll call of champions reads like a Who’s Who of the game itself and we look forward very much to seeing who will add their name to that illustrious list in a couple of months’ time.

    “Our game thrives on prestigious national championships such as the Open de España and we thank everyone at the Royal Spanish Golf Federation and the Madrid Golf Federation for helping us make this happen.”

    The first contested played in 1912 was also the first tournament played in the European Tour’s inaugural season in 1972, with home favourite Antonio Garrido crowned as champion. Several Spanish greats followed onto the Roll of Honour including Seve Ballesteros, Sergio García, Álvaro Quirós and Miguel Ángel Jiménez.

    Also victorious in the Championship have been Major Champions Arnold Palmer, Bernhard Langer, Sir Nick Faldo, Padraig Harrington and Charl Schwartzel, alongside European Number Ones Colin Montgomerie and Robert Karlsson.

    Schwartzel’s victory, in 2007, came at the Centro Nacional de Golf itself and was the second of his current 11 victories on the European Tour, four years before he won the Masters Tournament at Augusta

    National.

    Gonzaga Escauriaza, President of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, said: “The Open de España is back on the European Tour International Schedule, which is great news for Spanish golf and we are doubly delighted to be welcoming it back to our home at the Centro Nacional de Golf.

    “Our country has always held a relevant position in Europe, not only because of the outstanding performances of the Spanish golfers, both professionals and amateurs, but also for being one of the main tourist destinations. Therefore, Spain deserves its Open and I am convinced that our professionals will support the event with their presence. I especially would like to thank Keith Pelley and the European Tour, the Madrid Golf Federation, and all who have contributed to make it happen.”

    Ignacio Guerras, president of the Madrid Golf Federation, said: “The Open de España is set to return to its origins. In total, 43 of its 91 editions will have taken place in Madrid, one of the great cities in Europe, and also host to the first 17 editions of the tournament. Throughout history, Madrilenian golf courses have attracted the greats of the game including Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, José María Olazábal, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Davis Love III and Fred Couples.”

    Aside from the 2007 Open de España, the Centro Nacional de Golf has also played host to the 2009 Madrid Masters on the European Tour and the 2006 Challenge de España on the European Challenge Tour.

    With the Open de España now confirmed, the number of Race to Dubai counting tournaments in 2018 still stands at 47 after the news that the Philippines Golf Championship, scheduled for March 15-18, will not take place this year.

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    Ten years later… this kid will be “back” at Valderrama

    Jon Rahm after obtaining Henrik Stenson’s signature on his polo shirt at Valderrama’s 18th in 2007 – Permission is granted to reproduce this image provided a link to GolfinSpain.com is included next to the photo.
    “I didn’t bring home any balls, hats or gloves, only my shirt with six signatures on it.”

     

    New Spanish sensation Jon Rahm will be making his first professional appearance in Spain at the third edition of the Andalucía Valderrama Masters, Hosted by the Sergio García Foundation. Continue reading



    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.

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    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?

    “In the last few months I’ve watched a lot of TV- sport, documentaries, movies, I’ve done a lot of Sudoku- if I play anymore they’ll make me world champion! I’ve seen what Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy have done. It’s been an exceptional season of two halves: Spieth dominated the first, playing at an extraordinary level; that he could put up such a performance was just unreal. Jason Day was pretty much the same- he played spectacularly- off the chart. It’s been a year to remember. Both have been at the top of their game. It was a shame about the accident that put Rory out of the running.

    “It’s been wonderful to see Spieth and Day win and rewrite history in the process. On various occasions we’ve seen players who’ve experienced difficulties only to come out of it on top and taking into account the problems Jason had when he was younger, he deserves all the more credit. The fundamental element as to why, at just 21, Jordan comes across older than his years, is his sister, who suffers from a disability; the harsh reality of life makes you appreciate things and realize how fortunate you are.”
    Changes to the European Tour regulations: “I don’t think reducing the number of tournaments you have to play in order to be a member of the European Tour to five really changes anything. Granted, this step will make life easier for those that aren’t in the top 50 and can’t get into the four majors or the WGC. As far as the possible agreement with the Asian Tour is concerned, the offer’s on the table but nothing’s decided yet. I think it’s too early to say what will come of it. We’ll see. “

    Ryder Cup 2016: “Although there’s still a lot do before the team’s complete, there are six or seven players, such as McIlroy, Stenson, Rose and McDowell that will form the backbone of it…. There are other potential candidates like Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett, or Michael Fitzpatrick who have come a long way but still need to do more. Darren Clarke, (European team captain in 2016) is respected by all his team mates, he’s been a temperamental player who over the years has learnt to control this personality trait. The Americans are doing things differently, the players’ opinions are starting to be taken into account when it comes to taking decisions and this has contributed to a better team spirit. After the last few defeats, playing the next edition of the tournament at home will add extra pressure. I think it was a sound decision to pick Davis Love III as captain. He was crucified after Chicago and it was nothing to do with his captaincy, he did well: on the Sunday, in the crucial stages, everything came good for Europe. I don’t think there’s anyone else up to the task.

    Tiger Woods, vice-captain of the USA. “Knowing him, he’ll be falling over himself to play! Unfortunately, his physical condition is a real cause for concern. He came back following surgery and lately hasn’t picked up a club. It would be better for golf if he just came clean about it, it would be nice to see the sport itself being talked about in the media. I would like to see Tiger competing alongside the new generation: McIlroy, Day, Spieth. They’d give him a good game, that goes without saying, and quite right too. Tiger was everyone’s idol, of the kids and their parents, the model son that every mother wants. It all went to the dogs and he lost his aura of invincibility. It was a tough situation- he was fighting a losing battle, we all know what American morality can be like. What I was most struck by was his composure when under pressure: his game was consistently very good, and his approach shots and putting were out of this world. But his composure…. Thanks to this he was already a cut above the rest.

    “Spanish golf comes in waves. Winning three or four tournaments every year isn’t easy. The competition and standard is bigger and better every time. The differences between players are now minimal. I’ve always said that we have Sergio (Garcia) for however many years, he proved himself when he won in Vietnam. I hope that Gonzalo (Fernandez-Castaño) and Álvaro (Quirós) make a comeback; I see potential in the rest to win, for example, I look at Alejandro (Cañizares) and think that with a game like his, he should win more. We are not far off. And ‘El Pisha’… He’s another kettle of fish altogether; totally unique.

    “The final Lacoste Promesas is very special for me, I am very close to the Basis (distributors of Lacoste in Spain) and Bañó (owners of La Sella). They had faith in me when I started out, and I had a lot of fun with the kids. Every year they play better, the average ages gets lower. This time round there were two 13 year-olds and lots of 14 year-olds- and the standard of play and the coaching gets better and better. They train harder, they’re more professional, and they are in shape, but this has to go hand-in-hand with discipline, sacrifice and perseverance. All this has to be married together to help them get to the top. Healthy competition at this level is good, it helps them to develop as individuals at the same time as they evolve as players. I really enjoy watching them, I love how they play and the enthusiasm they put into it, I find it rejuvenating. We strive to create a convivial atmosphere and to make them feel comfortable. They ask lots of questions, and check with us on whether or not they’re doing the movements properly. We began at

    La Manga Club 12 years ago and we’ve seen them grow. It’s been such a joy to come back to see Azahara Muñoz and to spend those days with Marta Silva and Juan Sarasti, the first winners. It’s been wonderful watching them as professionals. I remember the edition that saw Jon Rahm qualify, and now he’s doing extraordinary things. We always had enjoyable times in what was a really familial atmosphere and I’m thankful for that.”

    On his work as a golf course designer: “At the moment, we’re working on a course in Qatar but progress is a lot slower than we’d hoped: they’re starting to create the front nine holes and the practice course. And it seems as though the project we began in Spain years ago is now starting to gather renewed momentum. I’m very happy with the results of the back nine holes at La Sella: they’re there to be enjoyed, they’re spacious, not too difficult, players have a whale of a time, and finish on a high. The first few holes are harder, the trees have grown and the fairways are narrower.

    “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. It’s all about making it more attractive to kids; the future of golf rests on this; we need to ensure that kids are drawn to this sport- it’s essential. Golf is doing great things. Those of us that play golf have a particular sensitivity towards those at a disadvantage and that’s the part that tends to be overlooked. At the end of the day, you get what you give.

    “Life has given me everything. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I look back at the past and see a kid in his element kicking a ball around…. How did I wind up here! I’m extremely fortunate. I’ve fulfilled so many of the dreams I had, some that once seemed so impossible have become a reality. I have met a lot of people, and have been lucky enough to rub shoulders with the best in the sport, I have learned from them all, from the great, and the not so great. They have all taught me many things that have made me a better person. I’ve also learned that, despite all the effort and hard work, not everyone comes out on top; they have my total respect. It’s been a long but entertaining journey, full of both ups and downs: great highs and the deepest lows when it felt as though everything was shrouded in total darkness. It’s been an emotional ride.”

    Interview by Maria Acacia Lopez Bachiller.

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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.”