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Two-shot lead for the American John Catlin at Valderrama (credit © Real Club Valderrama)

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John Catlin will take a two stroke lead into the weekend at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters after another bruising day at Real Club Valderrama.

The American started the day in a four-way tie for the lead and is the only player to have carded two rounds in the red as the field again contended with strong winds at the notoriously tough 1997 Ryder Cup venue.

The 29-year-old, who has won four times on the Asian Tour, began his round with birdies on the first and third holes, but was one over par for the day after his third bogey of the round came at the tenth hole.

He recovered strongly with gains on the 16th and 17th, and a crucial up-and-down on the 18th to sign for a one under par round of 70 and a three under par total.

Catlin is two strokes ahead of Scotsman Connor Syme, who shared the 18-hole lead, 2014 Ryder Cup player Jamie Donaldson and five-time European Tour winner Pablo Larrazábal.

Wilco Nienaber moved up to fifth place after a one under par round of 70, which included two birdies and an eagle.

Spaniard Alejandro Cañizares, who is attached to Real Club Valderrama, the Italian pair of Lorenzo Gagli and Guido Migliozzi, and Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen, who won the 2008 Volvo Masters at this golf course, share sixth on one over par.

Player Quotes

John Catlin: “I was hanging on in the middle of the round. I got off to a hot start again but then I started making bogeys, which you can do out here pretty easily if you miss a fairway here and a green there. I made a really good bogey on nine, that could have been a double pretty quickly. I hung in there all day and was able to hole putts there on 16, 17 and 18. I hit a great shot on 18, I just misjudged the wind a little bit. It’s nice to get two good ones in over the first two days.

“Winning is never easy. It doesn’t matter what Tour you’re on, you have to go out there, make birdies and hole putts. Being able to look myself in the mirror and know I’ve done this before and can do it again is hugely helpful. It helped me out there today, even though I haven’t won a European Tour event, I know I’m fully capable of doing that.”

Connor Syme: “Pretty pleased to be honest, it wasn’t easy again – the wind was probably a little less than yesterday but still equally as difficult. I probably wasn’t as sharp around the greens, got a couple of bad breaks but that’s just going to happen to you to be honest. Happy with the way I grinded, and I holed a few nice putts there at the end to salvage a pretty good score again today.

“(I’m) trying to focus for as little time as possible, switch off in between shots so that when you’re over the ball you’re putting everything into working it out. Because it’s such a grind, it’s pretty hilly and it’s a tough walk as well as being a difficult golf course so trying to keep as much energy as possible for when you’re playing your shots is key, so it’s tough but I’m happy with the score.”

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 Spanish Government. This tournament is also supported by Rolex, Exterior Plus, Santander Private Banking and Shell. Callaway, Coca-Cola, Enterprise, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, Marca, Maui Jim, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Riversa, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.

Pablo Larrazábal: “I didn't play my best golf today. I've played very poorly in the UK Swing, and I didn't play any good today, but I hung in there, making pars. I hit a couple of great shots - the third on 11 and the second shot on 13. 

“Grinding, great save on 15. Trying to get the positives.  I hit three putts on 17 - a perfect five iron to the middle right of the green on 17 and then three putted. And bogey on 18 is going to be pretty close to average. I'm happy with the fight, with the mental work I've been doing the last couple of days, and I’m happy for the result.”

Jamie Donaldson: “I’m very pleased. It’s a battle out there on the best of days, even when there’s no wind blowing here it’s still difficult. It was blowing 30 yesterday and probably 20 today, looking like the same this afternoon. It’s very difficult, you’ve got to be very patient out there. I’m happy with the position I’m in.

“The short game gets a test here because you’re not going to hit many greens when it’s so blowy. A good up and down on 15 and 17 I made a great shot in; it just went further than we thought. It was a good up and down from there.”

A view of Real Club Valderrama 17th hole, scene for the Golf for Good initiative (credit © Real Club Valderrama)

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The European Tour's Golf for Good initiative continues this week in the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters after a hugely successful UK Swing. As it was announced, all European Tour events in 2020 will be part of the #GolfForGood project. This aims to give back in three key areas:

▪ Supporting the Communities where the European Tour plays.

▪ Rewarding the true heroes, such as the front line workers.

▪ Promoting the many health benefits that golf offers.

At Valderrama, Golf for Good will have an amazing scene. For every birdie and eagle on the 17th hole this week, the European Tour will be donating €500 and €1,500 respectively to Real Club Valderrama, with the money being distributed between four local charities. On Thursday a total of 49 birdies and eight eagles were made. That's a whopping €36,500 raised already.

The four charities are:

- FEGADI (La Federación Gaditana de Personas con Discapacidad Física). It was founded in 1986 and funds 36 different entities, with a strategic focus on quality of life, participation and achievement through health, culture, youth, sports and education.

- Academia Andaluza de Gastronomía y Turismo. A non-profit entity, its aim is to promote Andalucía, their culture, gastronomy and local products through different events and activities.

- Fundación Aljaraque. A non-profit entity. Involved in the promotion and development of programs for training and empowerment of vulnerable people at risk or in a situation of social exclusion with a training focus on the hospitality industry.

- Por Una Sonrisa. To bring joy and hope to children and adolescents suffering from cancer.

Furthermore, through Golf for Good the Tour will be supporting various local golf clubs/local businesses near each host venue by providing a significant number of tour-grade range golf balls, as used by the professionals, donated in partnership with Callaway, the Official Golf Ball of the European Tour. Range balls from the Iberian Swing will be donated by Alvaro Quirós to Club de Golf La Cañada, located near Real Club Valderrama, where the Spaniard learned to play golf there as a junior.

 

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 Spanish Government. This tournament is also supported by Rolex, Exterior Plus, Santander Private Banking and Shell. Callaway, Coca-Cola, Enterprise, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, Marca, Maui Jim, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Riversa, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.

Jorge Campillo, co-leader and best Spaniard after the first round of the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters (credit © Real Club Valderrama)

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Real Club Valderrama maintained its reputation as one of the toughest stops on the European Tour as just five players broke par during the first round of the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters.

Four competitors share the lead on two under par as the field battled windy conditions in Sotogrande at the notoriously tricky 1997 Ryder Cup venue.

Scotsman Connor Syme continued the strong form he showed over the UK Swing and was the first player to post a score of 69 after finishing his round with three birdies in a row from the 16th hole. He was joined on that number by Spaniard Jorge Campillo, Guido Migliozzi of Italy and American John Catlin.

Spain’s Pep Angles sits one stroke back on one under par while six golfers share sixth place after carding level par rounds of 71, including last week’s ISPS Handa UK Championship winner Rasmus Højgaard and his Danish compatriot Søren Kjeldsen, who won the 2008 Volvo Masters on this golf course.

Player Quotes
Jorge Campillo: “I played very good on the front nine, and the back nine I kept it steady there. Just a shame about the bogey on 17 but overall it was a good round.

“I put the ball in play off the tee quite well and I hit good iron shots, my short game wasn’t as good as it has been in the last few months and my putting was good too. Everything was good besides the short game – I had a couple of up-and-downs where I would normally hit it close and I didn’t but overall it was good.

"I am normally a patient man, especially on this golf course – you have to be - and par is a good score on this golf course so it’s easier for me to be patient on these kinds of courses.”

Connor Syme: “I did play well on the back nine, I missed it in the good spots – as silly as it sounds, if you’re going to miss it in certain trees you’re better off being in the right ones, so you’re always taking that line where you’re taking that second shot.

“So I worked my round, I didn’t hit a great tee shot on 16, got a little bit fortunate but I missed it on the right side and hit a nice shot in and holed a nice putt, same on 17. It’s just about managing your ball, that’s so important around here. I was happy with the back nine, to be honest I didn’t know how I was scoring. It’s one of those days where you’re just getting on and grinding and it’s nice to see a few drop at the end.”

Guido Migliozzi: “It’s been a great day of golf. It’s no joke around here, Valderrama on a windy day, so I’m happy about my game and happy about the result. This is a paradise so I’m happy to be here and happy to play well.

“I need more consistency from my results. I’ve been struggling a bit on the first tournaments back but now I’m working hard and trying to improve day by day and the results will come.”

John Catlin: “I hit a couple of shots really close. On one I think I was two feet away, and then on the par three I hit one to about two feet as well. The par five I hit it up greenside in two and was able to chip one down there about five, six feet and holed it. Really it was my approach shots. Didn't give myself any long putts and was able to hole them. 

“This is already an incredibly difficult golf course. Then you add 35km winds, tough pins and very firm and fast greens. I'm very happy to be in the red. That was my goal at the start of the day, to have achieved that is very nice.”

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 Spanish Government. This tournament is also supported by Rolex, Exterior Plus, Santander Private Banking and Shell. Callaway, Coca-Cola, Enterprise, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, Marca, Maui Jim, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Riversa, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.

Martin Kaymer, one of the foreign stars in the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters (credit © European Tour)

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A rejuvenated Martin Kaymer cannot wait to take on the test of Real Club Valderrama at this week’s Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters.

The former World Number One has made no secret of his love for The 1997 Ryder Cup venue, and heads into the week with renewed confidence after challenging for the title at last week’s ISPS Handa UK Championship at The Belfry - where he missed out on a play-off spot by a single shot and finished in a share of third.

The two-time Major Champion from Germany is keen to build on last week’s performance as he continues his preparations for the U.S. Open - which he won in 2014 - in a fortnight’s time at Winged Foot.

Last week’s champion Rasmus Højgaard is also riding high after winning the second title of his rookie season, adding to his AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open success last December.

The Dane became the second youngest player in European Tour history to record multiple wins, aged just 19 years and 171 days.

Højgaard earned praise from 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn, who has tipped his young compatriot for big things in the future. This week, Bjørn returns to the venue where he made his debut in The Ryder Cup in 1997, starting a journey which culminated in his victorious captaincy two years ago.

Player Quotes

Martin Kaymer: “I’m confident. Of course, my confidence is higher than last week. But it was very disappointing for me to hit that tee shot on 17. I was very surprised with myself because it’s probably the easiest tee shot for me. I didn’t take the opportunity that was presented to me so I was disappointed by that but I need to see the positives from what happened last week.

“Valderrama is a golf course that was probably one of my top three golf courses around the world. If it wasn’t taking place at Valderrama this week I probably would not have come to Spain. For me it’s a very special place. I’ve always wanted to win here some day, and every time I have the opportunity to come here and play and compete, I take it.

“The beauty of the golf course is you don’t need to shoot four or five under every day. You just need to keep it in play and level par is a very good score. You don’t need to feel the pressure of making five or six birdies every day.

“It’s a golf course where you need to strike the ball well, it’s not a putting competition. It’s more about shaping the ball in all different angles so it’s more about playing golf, not the attacking. That’s what I really like about this golf course.”

Rasmus Højgaard: “I feel pretty good. It was awesome to get my second win, it all happened pretty quick. It’ll definitely take some time for it to sink in. It’s hard to tell what has worked for me. I’ve played solid from the British Masters and kept my patience. That’s been the key for the UK Swing success.

“(Valderrama) is awesome. It’s an awesome course, in great shape, you’ve got to hit some good shots out here to make a score. It’s a lovely place.

“If you’re playing well you can make some big moves on the leaderboard, I’ve seen the winning scores here over the last few years. It’s not been 15 or 18 under par, it’s been around ten under par. If you shoot under par in any round, you’ve done well.”

Thomas Bjørn: “For me the stand-out memory of Valderrama is sitting on the driving range for the opening ceremony of the 1997 Ryder Cup. The King of Spain was here, Seve being Captain and being part of that team will always be the stand-out memory for me. 

“It was the start of an amazing relationship for me and The Ryder Cup. Being part of that team alongside all of the heroes I grew up with, that for me was such a special moment.”

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 Spanish Government. This tournament is also supported by Rolex, Exterior Plus, Santander Private Banking and Shell. Callaway, Coca-Cola, Enterprise, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, Marca, Maui Jim, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Riversa, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.

A view of the 10th hole of the Real Club Valderrama, the venue for a new Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters (credit © Real Club Valderrama)

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The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, a European Tour event that will take place from September 3-6 at the Real Club Valderrama, serves as the perfect example of the close and long-standing relationship that Andalusia and golf have had for decades.

With the sixth edition of this event at Valderrama, Andalucía have held 61 elite men’s professional tournaments, more than any other region in Continental Europe. From 1966, the most skilled golfers in the pro tours have played the best Andalusian courses in world-class events, including 21 Volvo Masters, 11 Andalusian Opens, 11 Spanish Opens, 6 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, 3 Volvo World Match Play Championships, 3 World Cups, 2 World Golf Championships and the 1997 Ryder Cup as the icing on the cake. In that historic event, the first played in a Continental Europe course, the European team captained by the great, late Seve Ballesteros obtained an epic win and millions of spectators around the world could enjoy the best Andalucía could offer in terms of tourism and golf.

This sport, key for the Andalusian community as a tourist destination, is an integral part of the Junta’s strategy and a priority product in its promotional efforts. This is reflected in the fifteen specific actions launched throughout 2020 (specialized golf fairs, fam-trips and press-trips, professional meetings, direct promotions, actions with tourist boards and tourism marketing exchanges) with an 1,5 million euros investment.

In addition, golf serves as an ideal vehicle to communicate the many attractions of this community, since Andalusia's offer is characterized precisely by the great variety of tourist products that invite you to expand the golfing experience during any stay. Gastronomy, high-quality accommodations, health and wellness centers, entertainment, almost a thousand kilometers of coastline, the community with a greater extension of protected areas, snow... The list of merits is almost infinite and adds up to a perfect climate for golfing throughout the year.

Besides leading in Continental Europe as a host of pro events, Andalucía is also at the forefront as golf destination for amateurs. With more than a hundred golf courses (more than 20% of the Spanish courses), the region welcomed 560,000 golf tourists in 2017, most of them from UK, Germany, the Nordic countries and Spain, and the potential growth for this number is marked by the 3,7 million of registered golfers in those European markets.

However, when thinking about golf the Junta de Andalucía is no only thinking about tourists (whether national or foreign). This community intends to bring golf closer to any Andalusian who may be interested in playing and the promotion of public schools helped the sport reach the 44,000 registered golfers, only surpassed by Madrid at the national level. Thanks to the many initiatives launched in order to promote this sport among young people, women and families, important steps are still being taken to bring golf to any audience.

A great example is Álvaro Mueller-Baumgart Lucena, a young amateur player coming from the Real Club de Golf de Guadalmina, one of the top Andalusian golfing hotbeds. Mueller-Baumgart will play the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters along with other two illustrious Andalusian golfers, Álvaro Quirós and Alejandro Cañizares from September 3-6. Once again, this tournament will show the outstanding Andalusian offer through its worldwide television broadcast to more than 400 million households.

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 Spanish Government. This tournament is also supported by Rolex, Exterior Plus, Santander Private Banking and Shell. Callaway, Coca-Cola, Enterprise, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, Marca, Maui Jim, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Riversa, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.

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