The fourth edition of the Andalucia Masters sees Sergio Garcia go in search of an unusual hat-trick. The Ryder Cup star won this event both last year and the previous time it was played back in 2011. The tournament then fell victim to the Spanish financial crisis, before returning to the European Tour schedule 12 months ago. Garcia’s charitable foundation was its host. Garcia saw off the challenge of Joost Luiten by one shot, with the rest of the field four strokes off the pace.
The Valderrama course, which is consistently ranked as one of the best in Europe, is not dissimilar to Augusta with fast greens, large bunkers, creeks and tree-lined fairways, although this par 71 layout is almost 500 yards shorter than the Master’s venue. Graeme McDowell was the other winner of this event in 2010. Andrew Johnston won the Open de Espana at this course in 2016, with Garcia finishing third.
Luiten has finished second in the last two events to be staged here. Although he is returning this week after missing five months with a wrist injury.
The Andalucia Masters Favourites
Garcia knows this course like nobody else and the Spaniard is the firm favourite with the bookmakers at best odds of 5/1* with Betfred. Shane Lowry was 12th here last year and fourth in the 2011 edition of this tournament and the Irishman is at 12/1* with Ladbrokes and Coral.
European Tour veterans Lee Westwood, Soren Kjeldsen and Padraig Harrington all have the know-how to plot their way around this testing layout. They can all be backed at best odds of 20/1* with various firms. The 2016 Open de Espana winner Johnston, meanwhile, is a 25/1* chance with Betfred. Although he will need to improve on his indifferent recent form if he is to add another Valderrama victory.
The Andalucia Masters Tips
After a couple of top 10 finishes in his last three starts, Ricardo Gouveia will have the confidence to put in another strong performance. The 27-year-old from Lisbon was seventh at the Portugal Masters and then finished ninth at last week’s British Masters. He has done relatively well here in the past, finishing just inside the top 40 in 2016. He took a share of 23rd place last year. At 70/1* with Bet365 or Betfred he looks a decent each-way prospect.
Ashley Chesters missed 11 cuts in his first 19 appearances this season. But a run of only one missed cut in the last eight suggests he is beginning to get to grips with life on the European Tour. He was ninth in Denmark and 16th at the recent Portugal Masters. Though, he has fond memories of his previous visit to this venue, having shared 12th place last year. He can be backed at 100/1* with Bet365, Ladbrokes or Coral.
Peter Hanson is a veteran who no longer enjoys too many good weeks on the European Tour. But he does enjoy coming here. His last three appearances at Valderrama have seen him finish 12th, 10th and 11th, while he proved he can still be competitive by finishing in a share of 10th place at the recent Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. At 125/1* with Betfred, he is another player worthy of an each-way interest.