The European Tour has had a bit of a midseason break with the WGC Dell Match Play and Masters but after those massive tournaments the European Tour gets back to action and, for the first time this season, it is actually holding an event in Europe. Sergio Garcia’s foundation is hosting this year’s renewal of the Open de España which is being held at the wonderful Real Club Valderrama.
At a touch under 7,000 yards and with some very narrow driving areas, Valderrama is a markedly different test of golf to Augusta National but the course’s beauty and immaculate conditions have led to comparisons between the two. We are unlikely to see too many drivers off the tee this week as Valderrama is a place where accuracy and planning is much more important than power. Once the players get their first shot right there is also a big premium on the second shot as the greens are small making putting stats less vital than normal.
It is no surprise that the tournament that Garcia is hosting is being held at Valderrama. This is a course that he has a very strong affection for and a course where he has winning form having picked up the Andalucía Masters in 2012. Garcia has found it difficult to get over the line in recent years but he is the best player in the field this week and the fact that Valderrama rewards top class ball striking should stand him in good stead so he is a worthy favourite with the bookies at a top price of 6/1 with BetVictor.
Garcia will be happy with the number of top quality European Tour players who are making the trip to Cádiz this week. His pull coupled with the draw of playing at Valderrama is a strong combination but many of those taking part will be questioning their decision at times given the difficulty of the par 71 course. Everybody in the field is certain to make mistakes so you should consider backing only players with the right mindset.
One such player is Soren Kjeldsen. The 40-year-old Dane looked like he was making up the numbers at Augusta National last week but he put together a highly impressive performance to finish the Masters in a tie for seventh place. The relative lack of length of Valderrama will suit him as will his pitching and chipping should which will allow him to get up and down should he miss the particularly small greens. He’s 16/1 with Bet365 to win and is well worth following.
S.S.P. Chowrasia finally picked up his national title at the Hero Indian Open a few weeks ago and is 100/1 with Betfred to follow that up with another European Tour win at Valderrama. Chowrasia is going to need all of the accuracy and ball striking prowess that he showed at Delhi Golf Club to make an impact this week but he will be full of confidence and could follow in the footsteps of Anirban Lahiri by making the step from Asian Tour star to a recognition on a much wider scale.