The Royal Valderrama Golf Club is preparing to host the third edition of the Andalucía Masters from 19 to 22 October. The tournament marks the end of the European tour before players leave the continent and head to China, South Africa and Dubai to round off the 2017 professional tours. This year, the event will be hosted in partnership with the Sergio García Foundation and the regional government, and will welcome the Spaniard and US Masters winner himself, to the fairways.
The 37-year-old player from Castellón declared his love for the Valderrama course: “It’s a very special place to play golf and it’s among my favourite clubs to play at. It is one of the best courses in the world and I always feel comfortable playing there. I have some great memories from there, especially the win I had in 2011.”
García is pleased to be returning to Valderrama, this time as a player and patron for the tournament, having rounded off an already successful year with wins at Augusta in The Masters and at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. “I was
very pleased when I found out that the Andalucía Masters was returning: it is a great pleasure to be hosting the event alongside my foundation. I am sure that it will be a great tournament and, as an ambassador of the event, I encourage all those that come to enjoy the weekend. It will be great to see all the Spanish golfers, playing together in such a special place.”
García also had words of praise for the organisers of the event and the maintenance of the course: “The fairways are always in excellent condition and the greens are always quick and well-kept. Last year, when we played in the Spanish Open, we noticed the difference. The high level of maintenance made for a great round of golf free from obstacles.”
Speaking further about Valderrama, García said: “Every hole is excellent, each with its own appeal. It’s a demanding course that does not leave room for error. It makes you think, and puts your concentration to the test from the first tee-off to the final putt. It demands patience, you know you will make mistakes, you just have to minimise their impact. All of us play there with a lot of respect for the course.”
Despite his comments, García often stands up to the challenge of Valderrama, as his excellent results show. Among other notable performances, he came seventh in the American Express World Golf Championship in 1999, and fifth the following year. In the opening year of the Andalucía Masters he finished eleventh and then went on to win in 2011. More recently, García finished third in the Spanish Open in 2016. “Last year at the Spanish Open, I had the opportunity to return to winning ways. Even though I didn’t win, I was pleased with how I played and I persevered right until the end. I gave it my all.” said García.
The Sergio García Foundation managed to raise 65,480 euros for the Spanish Cancer association (AECC) during the Spanish Open. “Seeing the foundation’s emblem around the course made me feel very proud. A lot of people came, many of whom went to our stand. I want to thank everyone who donated; the money that we raised will be used to support the families of those that are affected by cancer.”
Sergio García established the foundation in 2002 with the support of his family. It was created with one clear goal in mind: to support social integration of young people who are economically disadvantaged. They aim to achieve this through benefit schemes and by promoting sport as a free-time activity. Since its inception, the foundation has collaborated with multiple organisations and charities which support those with special needs.
In 2003, the foundation created the Golf Adaptado en España initiative in collaboration with the Royal Spanish Golf Federation and other autonomous golf organisations. The project aims to make the sport more available to those with physical or mental disabilities, and at the same time, helping them to integrate within society, through playing the game.
A tourist attraction
Speaking on whether his victory in Augusta this year would promote the development of golf in Spain, García said: “If that doesn’t help, I don’t know what will. We know that, above all, golf in Spain is a tourist attraction. We need to keep fighting to promote the sport because other countries are getting better and better. I hope that the government and the Golf Federation both get involved too.”
The Andalucía Masters will be the only European tour date to be played on Spanish fairways this year, due to the cancellation of the Spanish Open this year. “It’s unfortunate that it will not be played this year. We will continue to support golf through the Andalucía Masters, but it is an issue that falls under the remit of the Golf Federation, who are the owners of the Spanish Open.”