The Andalucía Masters, which returned to the European Tour calendar in 2017 after an absence of six years, is under way at Valderrama Golf Club in Sotogrande with Sergio García keen to seal victory for the third year, and fourth tournament, in succession.
García became the first Spanish player to win a tournament on strokes at the Real Club Valderrama thanks to his hard-fought triumph in the 2011 edition. Having won the 2017 Masters at Augusta and become a Ryder Cup record-holder, he went on to extend his relationship with the Cadiz course by taking the title when the Andalucía event returned to the international calendar of the European Tour.
Last year García added to his impressive record at Valderrama by lifting the trophy (which is backed by his Foundation) for the third time on this historic course for Spanish golf; it was here that the legendary Seve Ballesteros led Europe to victory in the Ryder Cup in 1997. However, this year the battle for the title of the tournament will be especially enticing to watch.
Estrella Damm is the new main sponsor of the Andalucía Masters for the next five years. Thanks to this new incorporation, the prize money for the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters will be three million euros - one million more than in 2018.
This sum is undoubtedly a reason why this year’s edition, which will run until Sunday, has managed to attract some of the best national and foreign players, with the headliner undoubtedly Jon Rahm.
García’s title defence got under way on Thursday and he equalled his lowest ever round at Valderrama to sit just one shot off the clubhouse lead, held by Frenchman Victor Perez, on day one.