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Álvaro Quirós, in the 2019  Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters (credit © Real Club Valderrama)

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35 years since its foundation and 25 individual events of the European Tour held on its pristine course. With this simple sentence we could summarize the history of the venue for the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, the event that will take place from September 3-6, but numbers fall short when trying to convey the meaning of the Real Club Valderrama for Andalusian, Spanish and European golf.

Valderrama was founded in 1985 thanks to the efforts and vision of Jaime Ortiz Patiño, who hired top designer Robert Trent Jones Sr to renovate the old Las Aves course and the surrounding land with the intention of creating the best golf course in continental Europe. Valderrama debuted as a European Tour venue soon after that, since in 1988 it held the Volvo Masters, an elite field event that brought the curtain down on the European Tour season.

Taking a quick look at its winner list (from Sir Nick Faldo, its first champion, to world-class golfers such as Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, among others) it’s easy to understand its importance. On the fairways and greens of Valderrama, unforgettable moments such as Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie's draw in 2002, Miguel Ángel Jiménez's albatross in 1994 or the exciting playoffs between Ian Poulter and Sergio García in 2004 or Fredrik Jacobson with Carlos Rodiles the previous year. In total, 16 Volvo Masters in which the Real Club Valderrama acted as a fair but demanding judge.

After being elevated to a well-deserved glory and gaining international prominence thanks to the 1997 Ryder Cup in which Seve Ballesteros captained the European team to victory, the Sotogrande club hosted another key event on the international schedule, the WGC American Express Championship. The field, again, was outstanding. In 1999, the number one in the world, Tiger Woods, needed a playoff to beat a tough rival carried by the cheering locals, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, while in 2000 Mike Weir, a Masters winner, conquered the title.

Tiger Woods, winner of the 1999 WGC American Express Championship at Valderrama (credit © Getty Images)
Tiger Woods, winner of the 1999 WGC American Express Championship at Valderrama (credit © Getty Images)

The Andalucía Masters, currently sponsored by Estrella Damm and the Junta de Andalucía, followed up with the great tradition of elite tournaments at Valderrama and Graeme McDowell, who had won the 2010 US Open winner, beat the field that year. Golf fans had to wait until 2011 for the first Spanish victory at Real Club Valderrama when Sergio García managed to overcome the resistance of Miguel Ángel Jiménez.

In 2016 the Open de España took over and the field faced a course that, as always, made no concessions. This time, fan-favourite Andrew Johnston won the title but could not beat Valderrama because he finished over par, something that had not happened since Sandy Lyle won with +3 in the 1992 Volvo Masters.

In the following two years, Sergio García continued his love affair with Real Club Valderrama by winning two consecutive Andalucía Masters titles, becoming the first player to obtain three individual victories at Valderrama. The Borriol golfer accumulates 14 top ten in 15 appearances at Valderrama (2 in the WGC American Express Championship, 7 in the Volvo Masters and 5 in the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters), an impressive record.

In 2019 the South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout broke Sergio García’s streak and managed to hold off the assault of the many Spanish players fighting for the title, since five Spaniards finished in the top 7 of the event.

The 2020 winner, therefore, will have the honor of being crowned in the 25th European Tour event played at Valderrama. Without a question, he will be a worthy heir to the tradition that so many illustrious international champions have written with their talent in one of the best courses in the world.

REAL CLUB VALDERRAMA PALMARÉS / PAST WINNERS

AÑO

YEAR

TORNEO

EVENT

GANADOR

WINNER

RESULTADO

SCORE

MEJOR ESPAÑOL

TOP SPANIARD

1988  

Volvo Masters

Nick Faldo

74-71-71-68=284(-4)

2º Seve Ballesteros (-2)

1989

Volvo Masters

Ronan Rafferty

72-69-70-71=282(-6)

3º José Mª Olazábal (-1)

1990

Volvo Masters

Mike Harwood

70-72-73-71=286(+2)

4º José Mª Olazábal (+4)

1991

Volvo Masters

Rodger Davis

68-73-68-71=280(-4)

4º Seve Ballesteros (Par)

1992

Volvo Masters

Sandy Lyle 

72-70-72-73=287(+3)

6º José Mª Olazábal (+7)

1993

Volvo Masters

Colin Montgomerie

69-70-67-68=274(-10)

10º Miguel A. Jiménez (+3)

1994

Volvo Masters

Bernhard Langer

71-62-73-70=276(-8)

2º Seve Ballesteros (-7)

1995

Volvo Masters

Alexander Cejka

74-66-72-70=282(-2)

5º José Rivero (+2)

1996

Volvo Masters

Mark McNulty

72-69-67-68=276(-8)

13º Carlos Suneson (+3)

1997

Ryder Cup

EUROPA

14½ - 13½

 

1999

WGC-AmEx

Tiger Woods

71-69-70-68=278(-6)

2º Miguel A. Jiménez (-6)

2000

WGC-AmEx

Mike Weir

68-75-65-69=277(-11)

5º Sergio García (-7)

2002

 

Volvo Masters

Bernhard Langer

C. Montgomerie

71-71-72-67=281(-3)

70-69-72-70=281(-3)

7º Sergio García (+3)

2003

Volvo Masters

Fredrik Jacobson

64-71-71-70=276(-12)

2º Carlos Rodiles (-12)

2004

Volvo Masters

Ian Poulter

71-67-69-70=277(-11)

2º Sergio García (-11)

2005

Volvo Masters

Paul McGinley

74-68-65-67=274(-10)

2º Sergio García (-9)

2006

Volvo Masters

Jeev Milkha Singh

71-71-68-72=282(-2)

2º Sergio García (-1)

2007

Volvo Masters

Justin Rose

70-68-71-74=283(-1)

7º M. A. Jiménez (+5)

2008

Volvo Masters

Søren Kjeldsen

65-71-69-71=276 (-8)

4º Sergio García (-4)

2010

Andalucía Masters   

Graeme McDowell

68-67-72-74=281(-3)

7º Miguel A. Jiménez (+1)

2011

Andalucía Masters

Sergio García

70-70-67-71=278(-6)

 

2016

Open de España

Andrew Johnston

67-74-74-70=285(+1)

3º Sergio García (+3)

2017

Andalucía Masters

Sergio García

66-71-68-67=272(-12)

2018

Andalucía Masters

Sergio García

68-64-69=201(-12)

2019

Andalucía Masters

Christiaan Bezuidenhout   

66-68-69-71=274(-10)   

2º J. Rahm, A. Arnaus, E. de la Riva, Á. Quirós, (-4)

 

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.

Lee Westwood, once again at Valderrama 23 years after his Ryder Cup debut (credit © European Tour)

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Ryder Cup heroes Thomas Bjørn and Lee Westwood will return to the scene of their debuts in the biennial contest when they tee it up in the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters from September 3 – 6.

The pair made their Ryder Cup bows at Real Club Valderrama in 1997, when Europe - captained by the late, great Seve Ballesteros- retained the coveted trophy with a 14½ - 13½ victory over the United States.

Between them they contributed 3.5 points to the European cause, as Westwood earned two points alongside Nick Faldo in the foursomes and four-ball matches, and Bjørn added a half in the Sunday singles against Justin Leonard to the point he won with Ian Woosnam against Leonard and Brad Faxon.

Westwood is bidding for a European record-equalling 11th Ryder Cup appearance at Whistling Straits next year. The former World Number One is currently third on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex after his victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA in January.

“There isn’t much you can say about Valderrama that hasn’t already been said,” said Westwood. “It’s a fantastic golf course, and 1997 was very special because I made my Ryder Cup debut there and then won the Volvo Masters a few weeks later.

“It is an incredible test of golf, and it’s testament to Robert Trent Jones’ design that it has remained unchanged over the last 30 years. It’s a course that we all enjoy playing, and it’s great to see how this tournament has developed over the last four years.”

His close friend Bjørn is also looking forward to returning to the venue where his Ryder Cup journey began, culminating in his victorious captaincy two years ago at Le Golf National, Paris.

“Valderrama is an excellent golf course, and a test which we all enjoy returning to,” said the 15-time European Tour winner. “To make my Ryder Cup debut in a side captained by Seve, in his home country, and at a world-class venue, was incredibly special.”

Martin Kaymer adds star power to the 2020 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters (credit © European Tour)
Martin Kaymer adds star power to the 2020 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters (credit © European Tour)

Joining them on the famous fairways of Real Club Valderrama will be former World Number One and two-time Major Champion Martin Kaymer and seven-time European Tour winner Bernd Wiesberger. Wiesberger enjoyed a career-best year in 2019 as he won three times in the same season.

The Austrian won Made in Denmark and then two Rolex Series titles at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and Italian Open en route to a career-high third on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.

At the 2017 Andalucía Masters, Kaymer said of Real Club Valderrama: “If there is one course I can play for the rest of my life it would be Valderrama – it’s so pretty. But you should never underestimate this golf course. It is a tricky golf course that you need a lot of respect for. The greens are very small so it is all about ball striking – it is never going to be a putting competition. You have to be very strategic and I really enjoy that. I’ve done well here in the past too, so those are all good reasons to come back.”

Bjørn, Kaymer and Westwood are a trio of ten former Ryder Cup players who will be teeing it up at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters.

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

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Jorge Campillo and Pablo Larrazábal will lead the Spanish charge when the European Tour returns to Valderrama for the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters from September 3-6.

The pair have already tasted success on the Race to Dubai this season, with Larrazábal winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship last November and Campillo earning his second European Tour title at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

Campillo finished in a share of eighth at the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor last week while Larrazábal has made the cut in each of the four events he has played since the 2020 Race to Dubai resumed at the Betfred British Masters.

With both players currently inside the top 25 on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, they will lead a strong home contingent on one of the continent’s most famous golf courses, Real Club Valderrama, which hosted The Ryder Cup in 1997.

A member of that Ryder Cup side 23 years ago, captained by the late, great Seve Ballesteros, José Maríá Olazabál will return to where he won the second of three Ryder Cup matches as a player.

Also set to fly the flag for Spain are Adri Arnaus, Alejandro Cañizares, Emilio Cuartero, Eduardo De La Riva, Samuel Del Val, Nacho Elvira, Gonzalo Fdez- Castaño, Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez, Pedro Oriol, Adrian Otaegui, Carlos Pigem and Alvaro Quiros.

Spaniard Eduard Rousaud will use the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters as an opportunity to tune up ahead of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot next month. As one of the top five golfers on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Rousaud is exempt for the second Major Championship of the 2020 season. Fellow amateur Alvaro Mueller-Baumgart is currently 13th on the WAGR.

The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters marks the European Tour’s return to continental Europe since the resumption of the 2020 Race to Dubai, which restarted at the Betfred British Masters last month. The event is also the first of the three-week Iberian Swing, preceding two successive weeks in Portugal.

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

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In line with the European Tour’s comprehensive Health Strategy and following discussions with local and national authorities, it has been confirmed that no general spectators will be permitted at the 2020 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Masters.

Fans who have purchased tickets for the event at Real Club Valderrama on September 3-6 will be contacted directly with more information about the refund process.

The European Tour returned to action in July with two dual-ranking events in Austria, followed by a new six-week ‘UK Swing’, and all events since the re-start of the 2020 Race to Dubai have been played behind closed doors.

As part of a strategy to play events in regional clusters where possible, the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Masters forms an ‘Iberian Swing’ with the Portugal Masters on September 10-13 and Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos on September 17-20.

Peter Adams, the European Tour’s Championship Director for the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Masters said: “We look forward to returning to Real Club Valderrama once again in September, but it is important that we adhere to the appropriate guidelines and continue to minimise risk within the tournament bubble at each of our events.

“That means that we will not be able to welcome fans onsite at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Masters this year. We appreciate the support of everyone who has expressed an interest in attending this year and will be in contact directly with those who have already purchased tickets.

“We also thank our partners - Estrella Damm, Real Club Valderrama and Junta de Andalucia - and all of our other sponsors for their outstanding loyalty, support and commitment which has been critical to make the event possible.”

All tournaments in the reshaped 2020 season will be governed by the Tour’s comprehensive Health Strategy, which has been developed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Murray in consultation with health care specialists Cignpost and advisors in many of the 30 countries in which the European Tour plays.

They will also be underpinned by the European Tour’s new ‘Golf for Good’ initiative which aims to support communities where the European Tour plays, reward true heroes, such as frontline workers, and promote the many health benefits that golf offers.

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, and backed by the Real Federación Española de Golf.

(From left to right) Manuel Muñoz, Gonzaga Escauriaza, Javier Reviriego, Pablo Mansilla and Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix at the Real Club Valderrama (foto © Real Club Valderrama)

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Originally planned to tee off on April 30 but postponed following the suspension of the season due to the global Coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters has been rescheduled for September 3-6 at the iconic Real Club Valderrama and will now form part of the reshaped 2020 Race to Dubai as the only Spanish event. The combined efforts and continued support of all the partners and key stakeholders was shown at the press conference held at the Real Club Valderrama and served as a perfect metaphor of the unity needed to face the future in these challenging times. Once again, golf become the driving force for Spain and Andalucía and show its commitment with society.

Tournament Director Peter Adams intervened on behalf of the European Tour to thank all institutions involved for their determined support of an event that will send out a clear message of hope and optimism.

“This announcement owes everything to the support of our long-term partners and key stakeholders and we are especially indebted to Nuno Brito e Cunha, President of the Real Club Valderrama, Javier Reviriego, their General Manager, and the Board of Real Club Valderrama for agreeing to host the rescheduled tournament this September. At the same time, we are delighted that Jorge Villavechia and his team at Estrella Damm and the Consejero, Manuel Munoz and our partners at the Junta de Andalucia have also pledged their support. We very much appreciate the continued support from the national Federation and also the Federation de Andalucía and in particular we thank them for their help in our discussions with the various authorities regarding the protocols required to stage the tournament in relation to Covid-19. Our thanks also go to the Mayor (Alcalde) of San Roque Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix for his continued support, summarized Adams in his speech.

“In these unprecedented and challenging times it is the strength of these established friendships and relationships that enable a team to come together to take on the challenges set by Covid-19 and to produce a tournament at Valderrama which brings live leading professional golf back to Spain, giving golf fans the opportunity to cheer on their heroes again while showcasing some of the finest players in the world competing in the remarkable and beautiful region of Andalucia proclaiming that Spain and Andalucia are open for business and ready to welcome and receive golf tourists once again”, ended the European Tour representative.

Javier Reviriego, General Manager of the Real Club Valderrama, underlined the main points of Adam’s words and focused on the special character of this edition of the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters.

“We have gone through difficult months and it has been a tough decision to hold the tournament, but we considered our duty to take this opportunity to contribute to the economic recovery and the much-needed tourism revival. We also feel obliged to back the European Tour in these trying times. This will be the 26th European Tour event staged at the Real Club Valderrama, and we are determined to stand by the players and the sponsors giving them our full support”, said Reviriego.

 In addition, the Real Club Valderrama wishes to stress the social dimension of the tournament with measures of great scope for the local community.

“It will be a special event, with safety as our top priority. We still don’t know if we will have a public, but we want to make a golf celebration at Valderrama within our possibilities. We shall strictly follow all the sanitary guidelines recommended by health authorities and we will stage the best possible tournament under the circumstances. This year we intend to give our tournament a strong social dimension, and we will make an important financial donation in order to help mitigate the consequences of the pandemic at a local level. We want to send a message of optimism that will boost the image of golf as a sport committed to society and a driving force for tourism”, said Valderrama’s General Manager.

Regarding the field and the prize fund, Reviriego pertinently summed up the current situation.

“We still don’t have players’ confirmations, and much will depend on travelling restrictions. For instance, the US Open will be played two weeks later, so if the US is under quarantine, Sergio García will be unable to come”.

“The price fund is yet to be decided. If we cannot offer our sponsors certain benefits – such as hospitality tents – we might make some adjustments. In any case, part of the money will go to social aid”, explained. “Our main objective for this year is to convey a safe and solid image in order to come back stronger in 2021”.

The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters will be governed by the Tour’s comprehensive Health Strategy, which has been developed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Murray in consultation with health care specialists Cignpost and advisors in many of the 30 countries in which the European Tour plays.

Gonzaga Escauriaza, President of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, referred to the weight of Real Club Valderrama on the European stage and emphasised the importance of this tournament to promote a good image of golf as a safe sport worldwide.

“I would like to point out the generosity and solidarity shown by Real Club Valderrama in its bid to maintain the tournament. This staging is an achievement that bears witness to the confidence of all sponsors in the Club that changed the history of European golf”, highlighted the RFEG President. “The tournament will be a major media focus so that people can see that golf can be played with no risk of contagion. In addition, it will contribute to a much-needed tourism recovery during the second half of the year”.

Pablo Mansilla, President of the Royal Andalusian Golf Federation, also pointed out that golf is a safe sport to practice and described Andalusia as a wonderful tourist destination.

“The staging of this tournament is very important for all of us for two main reasons. It is important for golf because it helps prove that golf is a very safe sport, and it is important for Andalusia because it proves that this is the best place to be right now”.

 In turn, the Mayor of San Roque Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix remembered all those who bravely faced the pandemic at their workplaces and highlighted the importance of the tournament for the area.

“I wish to convey my gratitude to all health workers as well as to professionals in sectors such as food, logistics or security who form the front line in the fight against COVID-19”, said Ruiz Boix. “Besides, I would very much like to praise the attitude of Real Club Valderrama – in particular their General Manager Javier Reviriego– for seeking a response to the situation other than cancelling the tournament. The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters plays a major role in the economy of our community. San Roque boasts nine of the best golf courses in Spain, led by Valderrama”.

Manuel Muñoz, General Secretary for Tourism of the Regional Government of Andalusia, had the honour to close de presentation and made a clear statement.

“The staging of the Estrella Damm NA Andalucía Masters is a significant milestone for the Government of Andalusia because we want to convey the message that Andalusia is a safe place, so it’s important to regain a sense of normalcy. The situation was very difficult in April, that’s why we are so proud to be able to present this great tournament”, explained the General Secretary. “Through this golf event we will showcase our tourism resources to the world, while consolidating our leadership as a golf destination. Golf generates €700 million per year in Andalusia – one million persons come here mainly to play golf.”

After returning with two dual-ranking events in Austria, the European will continue with the six event UK Swing, before the action moves to Spain and Portugal with the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters (September 3-6) and the Portugal Masters (September 10-13).

The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters will be the 25th European Tour-sanctioned individual event held at the world-famous Real Club Valderrama, which became the first venue in Continental Europe to host The Ryder Cup, when the late, great Seve Ballesteros led Europe to victory in 1997.

The event will be governed by the Tour’s comprehensive Health Strategy, which has been developed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Murray, and will also be underpinned by the European Tour’s new ‘Golf for Good’ initiative which aims to support communities where the European Tour plays, reward true heroes, such as frontline workers, and promote the many health benefits that golf offers.

Last year, Christiaan Bezuidenhout won his first European Tour title on what is regarded as one of the toughest tests in golf, finishing a mammoth six strokes ahead of a chasing pack which included four Spanish golfers, including the current World Number Two John Rahm.

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, and backed by the Real Federación Española de Golf. This tournament is also supported by La Reserva Club de Sotogrande, Rolex, Santander Private Banking and Shell. Callaway, Enterprise, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, Maui Jim, Grupo Hospitalario Quirónsalud and the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf are official suppliers.

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