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Martin Kaymer returns to the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters (credit © Getty Images)

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Ryder Cup stars Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn will return to one of Continental Europe’s most renowned courses later this month at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters.

Former World Number One Kaymer has made no secret of his desire to win at Real Club Valderrama, citing the course as one of his favourite layouts, while Bjørn made his Ryder Cup debut under the captaincy of Seve Ballesteros at the venue in 1997 – a journey which culminated in him leading Europe to glory 21 years later.

Two-time Major Champion Kaymer  was runner-up at last year’s event, finishing one stroke behind American John Catlin.

The pair join current World Number One and two-time Ryder Cup player Jon Rahm and 2016 Ryder Cupper Rafa Cabrera Bello in the field at the popular tournament, which takes place from October 14-17.

“Since the first time I played this course in 2007, it has been a career goal of mine to win at Valderrama,” said Kaymer. “Coming so close last year has only added fuel to that fire and I’m really looking forward to having another chance to return to Sotogrande later this month.

“I’ll never forget my first practice round at Valderrama. It was just me and a golf trolley and it was one of the most enjoyable rounds I’ve ever played.”

Bjørn is Denmark’s most decorated golfer, with 15 European Tour victories and three winning Ryder Cup appearances as a player to his name, and he returned to the winner’s circle earlier this year, earning his first Legends Tour title at the Irish Legends hosted by Paul McGinley. He can’t wait to return to Real Club Valderrama once again.

“Valderrama is one of the best courses in Europe and I always enjoy coming back,” said the Dane. “1997 was the start of an amazing relationship with the Ryder Cup and being part of an incredible team with so many of my heroes is such a special memory – those memories come flooding back every time I visit.”

Tickets are now available for this year’s Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, with options for purchasing individual tickets for each day, four-day passes or weekend passes, with preferential rates for children under 14, federated golfers or people with reduced mobility.

Tickets can be purchased from the Tickets menú on the tournament website, at edamgolf.es or at Fever.

The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, an event in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai made possible by the essential contribution of the Real Club Valderrama, is sponsored by Estrella Damm and the Consejería de Turismo, Regeneración, Justicia y Administración Local of the Junta de Andalucía, jointly funded by the EU, declared Event of Exceptional Public Interest by the Government of Spain. This tournament is also supported by the Diputación de Cádiz, Exterior Plus, Rolex y Santander Private Banking. Callaway, Cinco Jotas, Enterprise, Gadira, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, La Reserva Club Sotogrande, Marca, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.

Jon Rahm teeing off in the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters 2019 (credit © Real Club Valderrama)

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Golf is a sport in which symbols are paramount, but this does not mean that it turns its back on modernity. Both professionals and amateurs are aware of the power of certain trophies (for example, the claret jug from the Open Championship or the green jacket awarded at the Masters), which are a permanent fixture in the mind of every self-respecting golfer. In the same way, the victories achieved in the most exclusive settings, such as the courses in the Open Championship rota, the most important venues of the U. S. Open, or jewels such as the Real Club Valderrama, have an additional significance in the list of winners and in the memories of those who achieve them. That is why a victory at Real Club Valderrama is such a prized and sought-after prize, especially for Spanish golfers. That's why Jon Rahm and the rest of the Armada have marked the dates between October 14-17, when the next Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters will be held, on their calendars.

The jewel promoted by Jaime Ortiz Patiño in Sotogrande, however, resisted the Spaniards for a long time. Three years after its inauguration it hosted the Volvo Masters, the historic closing event of the European Tour schedule, but luck did not smile on the Spanish professionals. In the first edition, in 1988, Seve Ballesteros came close to victory, which Nick Faldo finally got. After that, the ace from Pedreña, José María Olazábal, José Rivero and Miguel Ángel Jiménez fought for the title on numerous occasions in a tournament that was played 16 times at Valderrama. In 1999, Jiménez also fought in the American Express Championship, in which the golfer from Churriana finished second only to the stellar Tiger Woods after a thrilling playoff.

Subsequently, and without forgetting Carlos Rodiles' second place in the 2003 Volvo Masters and the repeated attempts by José María Olazábal and Miguel Ángel Jiménez to win the title in that tournament, Sergio García took over on what he has always considered his favourite course. The golfer from Borriol has 14 top tens (two at the American Express Championship, six at the Volvo Masters, one at the Open de España and five at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters) in the 15 European Tour tournaments he has played at Valderrama, and he also holds the record of being the first golfer to win three individual events at this course (the 2011, 2017 and 2018 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, known as the Andalucía Valderrama Masters until 2019).

The titles won at the Real Club Valderrama, a demanding judge, came always against top-class opponents. After battling with Graeme McDowell, champion in the 2010 edition, García managed in 2011 to translate his taste for the Cadiz course into victory in an intense duel with Miguel Ángel Jiménez, which culminated in a celebration that is still remembered today. In 2016 came his third place at the Spanish Open, also played at Valderrama, just two strokes behind Andrew "Beef" Johnston, a prelude to the titles he won in 2017 and 2018, holding off Joost Luiten and Shane Lowry, respectively.

After playing his first tournament as a professional in Spain at Valderrama in 2017, Jon Rahm came into the 2019 edition eager to take on the challenge of Robert Trent Jones' design again and fought off South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, the winner on that occasion, right to the end. Rahm finished second tied with Spaniards Adri Arnaus, Alvaro Quiros and Eduardo de la Riva and Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera, while the inevitable Sergio Garcia signed a new top ten on the San Roque course to finish seventh.

The world number one's logical goal at the 2021 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters: to climb a place on the podium and join Ryder Cup partner Sergio García as the second Spanish winner at Real Club Valderrama.

"Ian Poulter gave me some good advice and that is that four rounds under par at Valderrama is a top 10. The difficulty at Valderrama is from tee to green, although the greens are also like those at Augusta because of how true the ball rolls. They are spectacular. Thank God we have courses like this, short courses where the drive doesn't come into play so much," said Jon Rahm on his visit to the tournament in 2019.

It is worth remembering that the origin of the Barrika-born golfer's career is also in Valderrama, as some of his father's friends were at the 1997 Ryder Cup, encouraged him to play and the whole Rahm family ended up signing up for Eduardo Celles' school. It is not the only fond memory Rahm has of the Sotogrande course.

"In 2007 I went to a Volvo Masters and got my shirt signed by Stenson and Casey. The first shot I saw was Thomas Bjorn's bunker shot on the 7th and I also saw Ian Poulter. Those are four players I've shared the Ryder Cup with since. If soomebody had told me then, I wouldn't have believed it.

Tickets are now available for this year’s Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, with options for purchasing individual tickets for each day, four-day passes or weekend passes, with preferential rates for children under 14, federated golfers or people with reduced mobility.

Tickets can be purchased from the Tickets menú on the tournament website, at edamgolf.es or at Fever.

The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, an event in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai made possible by the essential contribution of the Real Club Valderrama, is sponsored by Estrella Damm and the Consejería de Turismo, Regeneración, Justicia y Administración Local of the Junta de Andalucía, jointly funded by the EU, declared Event of Exceptional Public Interest by the Government of Spain. This tournament is also supported by the Diputación de Cádiz, Exterior Plus, Rolex y Santander Private Banking. Callaway, Cinco Jotas, Enterprise, Gadira, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, La Reserva Club Sotogrande, Marca, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.

(From left to right) José María Zamora, Jorge Villavecchia, Manuel Muñoz, Nuno de Brito e Cunha and Jaime Salaverri toast at the end of the event (credit © Luis Corralo)

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If just over two years ago the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters embarked on a new path with renewed vigour thanks to the sponsorship of Estrella Damm, the Mediterranean beer made with 100% natural ingredients, it could be said that the 2021 edition represents a new leap in quality thanks to three fundamental factors: the presence in its notable line-up of world number one Jon Rahm, the return of the public to Real Club Valderrama and the decisive support of all the private and entities and institutions (headed by the Junta de Andalucía) and that back this European Tour tournament to be held from 14 to 17 October at the emblematic club in San Roque.

All the parties involved decided to maintain the event on the calendar in a difficult year, 2020, despite the covid pandemic, and the commitment they showed at the time is now rewarded with the possibility of once again offering a unique spectacle to fans from all over the world. The harmony between the organisations that promote and support the tournament was perceived at the presentation held on Thursday in Madrid, where the attendees had the opportunity to listen to the representatives of an Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters. With three million euros in prize money, the highest amount of the European Tour events held this year in Spain, the tournament has been declared an event of exceptional public interest by the Spanish Government.

The venue is, again, the Real Club Valderrama, an unbeatable golf course that has already hosted 25 European Tour events and a historic Ryder Cup in which Seve Ballesteros captained the European team to victory. Fulfilling all the requirements set by the health authorities, the manicured streets of the Sotogrande course will again be lined up with a loyal and knowledgeable public in this seventh edition of the championship.

The president of the Real Club Valderrama wanted to emphasise the exceptional nature of this Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters and the attractions it offers for players, fans and sponsors. In the future, there is also the prospect of growing and achieving an even more global reach.

"We are very excited and I would like to thank Estrella Damm and the Junta de Andalucía for being our sponsors and friends in this project. Valderrama is going to be a top venue for the great champions who come, such as Jon Rahm, number one and U.S. Open winner. We want it to be a tough but fair course, and we want good shots to be rewarded," said Nuno de Brito e Cunha. "Looking to the future, we, Estrella Damm and the Junta de Andalucía have a commitment: this tournament has to go further. The situation between the European Tour and the PGA Tour has changed and, although I can't see the future, they have taken a very important step in their relationship. There is no reason why golf should not have a world tour... and there are going to be very big tournaments in Europe. If I had to put my money on it, I would bet that Valderrama will be at the forefront.

Jaime Salaverri, vice-president of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, highlighted the importance of Spain and the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters on the international schedule and the role of Real Club Valderrama as a standard bearer for Spanish, European and world golf.

"We must congratulate the European Tour, because in a very complicated year they are moving forward with projects. This year there will be six tournaments in Spain and it has been many years since we had so many events in our country. On the Professionals Committee, which I chair, we are delighted to have so many opportunities for our players. This time it's on a wonderful course like Valderrama, which will be a very important test for the players," recapped Salaverri.

José María Zamora, Tournament Director of the European Tour, reviewed the main sporting assets of this tournament and had the opportunity to summarize some new developments related to the list of players.

"Valderrama is one of the few courses where we never have to worry about the conditions. In addition, this edition offers three million euros in prize money, provides 4,250 points for the Race to Dubai, being one of the most important tournaments of the European Tour schedule, and registration closes on September 30th, so it is likely that more top players will sign up. Jon Rahm is coming, who is currently third in the Race to Dubai, 600 points behind Collin Morikawa, and winning at Valderrama would put him at the top of the rankings. Rafa Cabrera Bello, who hasn't been able to attend for a few years, will also be playing, and we are still working to incorporate other Ryder Cup players," Zamora concluded.

Manuel Muñoz highlighted the importance of the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters in the promotional, tourism and sporting strategy of the Junta de Andalucía, and even more so in the current circumstances, given that showing the return to normality in front of spectators from all over the world will help to reinforce Andalucía's position as a leading golf destination.

"Once again, Andalucía is under the golfing spotlight thanks to two reasons: firstly, the magnificent Valderrama course, one of the best in Europe, and the collaboration of Estrella Damm, our friend with whom we have been working together for so many years. This year is important, after all our 2020 efforts trying to keep alive a long-lasting project. This year we will have the world number one, which will give us a worldwide impact, and the public will come back. Golf is one of the main resources Andalusia has for attracting tourists to our land and a benchmark in the diversification of the offer of our territory. Two years ago, more than one and a half million people visited Andalusia specifically to play golf, which led us to strengthen our collaboration with both the RFEG, the Royal Andalusian Golf Federation and the golf courses of our land. "The Secretary General for Tourism of the Junta de Andalucía stressed.

Jorge Villavecchia, CEO of Damm, wanted to highlight the close links between his company and sport since its foundation, both in the men's and women's spheres, and the role played by major sporting events such as the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters in the internationalisation of the brand.

"For the third consecutive year, Estrella Damm will be alongside the great golf stars and all their fans in the incomparable setting of the Real Club Valderrama. A tournament of which we are especially proud to carry the name of our flagship brand, and together with which we will continue to work to place it at the top of the international golfing scene. Our commitment to the Estrella Damm Andalucía Masters only reinforces Damm's commitment to golf, sport and society", added Villavecchia.

The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, a European Tour tournament that forms part of the decisive leg of the 2021 Race to Dubai, will feature a spectacular international field headed by Jon Rahm, current world number one, first Spanish winner of the U.S. Open and recently awarded the PGA Player of the Year by the PGA of America, as well as the Vardon Trophy and the Byron Nelson Award for the player with the lowest stroke average in the 2020-21 PGA Tour season.

Rafa Cabrera Bello, three-time winner on the European Tour and member of the European team that contested the 2016 Ryder Cup, reinforces the competition's roster. The Gran Canarian returns to Real Club Valderrama after shining at the Open de España held at the club in 2016 and becoming one of the mainstays of Spanish golf in the last decade.

Tickets are now available for this year’s Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, with options for purchasing individual tickets for each day, four-day passes or weekend passes, with preferential rates for children under 14, federated golfers or people with reduced mobility.

Tickets can be purchased from the Tickets menú on the tournament website, at edamgolf.es or at Fever.

The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, an event in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai made possible by the essential contribution of the Real Club Valderrama, is sponsored by Estrella Damm and the Consejería de Turismo, Regeneración, Justicia y Administración Local of the Junta de Andalucía, jointly funded by the EU, declared Event of Exceptional Public Interest by the Government of Spain. This tournament is also supported by the Diputación de Cádiz, Exterior Plus, Rolex y Santander Private Banking. Callaway, Cinco Jotas, Enterprise, Gadira, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, La Reserva Club Sotogrande, Marca, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.

Rafa Cabrera Bello returns to a mythic golf course, Real Club Valderrama (credit © Getty Images)

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Three-time European Tour winner Rafa Cabrera Bello will make his return to Real Club Valderrama next month for the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, from October 14-17.

The 37-year-old last teed it up in this event ten years ago in 2011 and will play a competitive round at Valderrama for the first time in five years since his 2016 Open de España appearance.

The 2016 Ryder Cup player joins current World Number One Jon Rahm in the field as the European Tour returns to one of the Europe’s most-renowned golf courses for the seventh edition of the Andalucía Masters.

In 2020, Cabrera Bello was one of 38 European Tour stars who took part in the BMW Indoor Invitational powered by Trackman in a virtual tournament at Real Club Valderrama. The Spaniard finished in joint-first place with a one-under par round of 70, with his share of the $10,000 prize fund going to charity.

“I’m really looking forward to returning to Valderrama,” said Cabrera Bello. “It’s a very special golf course and a fantastic test of golf that has provided a number of exciting moments over the years. It was very different playing the course virtually last year, so I’m excited to experience the real thing once again.

“To have another opportunity to play in front of our home crowds again this year is something all the Spaniards are looking forward to. It should be another great week on home soil.”

The Spaniard also assumed a hosting role at the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open in April and the Andalucía Masters will be the fifth of six tournaments held on Spanish soil on the 2021 Race to Dubai, with it taking place between the ACCIONA Open de España and the Mallorca Golf Open.

Tickets are available for this year’s Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, with options for purchasing individual tickets for each day, four-day passes or weekend passes, with preferential rates for children under 14, federated golfers or people with reduced mobility.

Tickets can be purchased from the Tickets menú on the tournament website, at edamgolf.es or at Fever.

The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, an event in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai made possible by the essential contribution of the Real Club Valderrama, is sponsored by Estrella Damm and the Consejería de Turismo, Regeneración, Justicia y Administración Local of the Junta de Andalucía, jointly funded by the EU, declared Event of Exceptional Public Interest by the Government of Spain. This tournament is also supported by the Diputación de Cádiz, Exterior Plus, La Reserva Club Sotogrande, Rolex and Santander Private Banking. Callaway, Cinco Jotas, Enterprise, Gadira, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, Marca, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.

Jon Rahm, teeing off in the 2019 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters (credit © Real Club Valderrama)

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For almost 35 years, the European Tour and Real Club Valderrama have set up one of those successful pairings that empower and reinforce each other, and this association has yielded a notable list of champions. Jon Rahm will tee it up at the Estrella Damm N. A. Andalucía Masters from October 14-17 looking to add his name to the roll-call of major champions who have also won at Valderrama.

All along this time, Real Club Valderrama has played host to 25 European Tour events  ̶  16 Volvo Masters, two American Express Championships, one Open de España and six Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters  ̶  to which must be added the 1997 Ryder Cup where the great late Seve Ballesteros efficiently and enthusiastically led Europe to victory against a powerful U.S. team including Tiger Woods, arguably the best golfer ever.

With its challenging fairways and pristine greens, Valderrama is well known as a fair and demanding judge, and this can easily be confirmed with just a quick look at the big names that make up its winner’s list. Major champions having lifted the Volvo Masters trophy include Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Justin Rose…, while Tiger Woods and Mike Weir prevailed at the American Express Championship. Later on, the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters was won by Graeme McDowell and Sergio García, also crowned at the highest level of world golf after claiming the U.S. Open and the Masters respectively.

Jon Rahm, the first Spanish winner of the U.S. Open, will take on Real Club Valderrama for the third time next month, having played two previous editions of the event with marked progress. After missing the cut in 2017 at his first professional appearance on Spanish soil, he performed well in 2019, as he fought for the title right up to the last hole to finish tied second alongside countrymen Adri Arnaus, Álvaro Quirós and Eduardo de la Riva and France’s Michael Lorenzo-Vera, behind winner Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

The current world number one will aim to go one better at the 2021 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters and join the stellar list of Valderrama winners.

Since his debut in 2017, Rahm declared himself a big fan of the prestigious venue:

“Valderrama is one of the best layouts I have ever played. It is visually attractive and wonderfully maintained. Golf courses don’t need to measure 10,000 yards to be challenging. I find Valderrama very exciting and a good test. You really have to think your way through and play all kinds of shots. Mistakes can be costly, so it keeps you on your toes.”

Tickets are now available for this year’s Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, with options for purchasing individual tickets for each day, four-day passes or weekend passes, with preferential rates for children under 14, federated golfers or people with reduced mobility.

Tickets can be purchased from the Tickets menú on the tournament website, at edamgolf.es or at Fever.

The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, an event in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai made possible by the essential contribution of the Real Club Valderrama, is sponsored by Estrella Damm and the Consejería de Turismo, Regeneración, Justicia y Administración Local of the Junta de Andalucía, jointly funded by the EU, declared Event of Exceptional Public Interest by the Government of Spain. This tournament is also supported by Rolex, La Reserva Club Sotogrande, Exterior Plus and Santander Private Banking. Callaway, Enterprise, Grupo Raga, Marca, Kyocera and the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf are official suppliers.

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