Tournaments held on mainland Europe come to a close with the Andalucía Masters and where better to have the tour climax than at the beautiful Valderrama in southern Spain. Situated on a private estate along the coast from Marbella, this iconic course was designed by legendary architect Robert Trent Jones Senior in 1974. Billionaire Jaime Ortiz-Patino, who invited Trent Jones back with the brief to transform the course into Europe’s finest track, bought the club ten years later.
With the help of the dramatic 1997 Ryder Cup win under Severiano Ballesteros Captaincy it has become famed around the planet. Seve said of Valderrama “I found everything perfect, it’s impossible to imagine a golf course in better condition.” Two years later, the club hosted the inaugural WGC American Express Championship, won by Tiger Woods. It was also home of the Volvo Masters, the one-time season-ending climax to the European Tour.
Consistently presented in the most immaculate condition, Valderrama’s generous fairways and small greens are as good as you will find anywhere. Its bunkers are deep and uniformly filled, and beautiful cork and pine trees border virtually every hole. The layout is a delight, and while everyone will have a favourite hole, the one that tends to live longest in the memory is the iconic 17th – famous for its green that is protected by water to the front and was at the centre of the Ryder Cup action.
My tips to win
Its not often I think a player can win back to back tournaments, but Sergio Garcia 7/1 played some inspired golf to win the Castello Masters. Two rounds of 63 and a 64 show the man from Castellon now has the putting stroke to match his fantastic ball striking ability.
Alexander Noren 25/1 has already won on the European Tour this year, bagging the Nordea Masters, a third round 73 last week, put paid to his chances of challenging, but he hit back with a final round of 64 to grab a share of third place.
Thomas Aiken 33/1 stuttered a bit after winning the Open de España, but he looks to have gotten some confidence back and a final round of 63 at the Castello Masters helped him move up to 5th place.
My each-way tips
George Coetzee 33/1 seems to be coming into some great end of the season form, a final round 66 last week see him move up to 6th, following up on his impressive third place finish at the Portugal Masters.
Jamie Donaldson 40/1 didn’t play last week, but has finished in the Top ten the previous three tournaments he teed it up in.
Richie Ramsay 66/1 Surprising odds for Richie Ramsay, as he finished so well last week firing a final round 65 to tie for third place, definitely worth a couple of pound.
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