Andalucia Valderrama Masters Oct 28th – 31st

The recession may have struck, prize funds are down, several tournaments have disappeared but it isn’t all doom and gloom for the European Tour. This week, the Tour has pitched camp at Valderrama on Spain’s Costa del Sol — or as the tourism people in these parts would have it, the Costa del Golf.

Valderrama is the brainchild of the Bolivian tin mine billionaire Jaime Ortiz Patino who in many ways set the trend for wealthy people to host the Ryder Cup — as Dr Michael Smurfit did at The K Club in 2006 and Sir Terry Matthews at Celtic Manor this year.

A confirmed field size of 96 players will have a golden opportunity to improve their Race To Dubai ranking on The European Tour International Schedule by playing for a first prize of €500,000 from a €3 million prize fund in the inaugural Andalucía Valderrama Masters at Club de Golf Valderrama from October 28-31.

The reduced field, which includes five invites and four players from the Spanish Order of Merit, takes into account the amount of daylight available in the area at that time of year. It also means the cut will see the top 50 players, and those tied for 50th place, complete the final two rounds.

The tournament, which reinforces The European Tour’s formidable partnership with the Spanish region, will be the last event of the year on the Tour’s home continent before the season-ending finale of The Dubai World Championship four weeks later.

It is fitting that an Andalucían tournament fills this role for, at the end of March, the Open de Andalucía de Golf was the first tournament to be played in mainland Europe during the 2010 season.

That tournament was won by South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen who, four months later, produced a world-class performance to win the 150th Anniversary Open Championship by seven shots on the Old Course at St Andrews.

A top quality field will assemble at Valderrama in October, headed by BMW PGA Championship winner Simon Khan of England, all keen to triumph at one of the most iconic venues in world golf.

The spectacular Robert Trent Jones Snr layout has provided the backdrop for some of the most thrilling moments in golfing history, including Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph in 1997, when Colin Montgomerie, this year’s European Captain, provided the vital half point in his singles match against Scott Hoch, which saw Europe win 14½-13½.

Valderrama also played host to The European Tour’s season-ending Volvo Masters on 16 occasions in total from 1988 to 1996 and 2002 to 2008, as well as being the venue for two World Golf Championship – American Express tournaments won, respectively, by Tiger Woods in 1999 and Mike Weir in 2000.

Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer of The European Tour, said: “The European Tour’s partnerships with both Junta de Andalucía and Club de Golf Valderrama are among the strongest in golf, so to be able to further strengthen our relationship gives us immense satisfaction.

“We look forward to returning to one of the great venues of European golf for what will be one of the key events as The Race to Dubai gathers momentum, and we thank our friends at the Junta de Andalucía and the Ortiz Patiño family at Valderrama for their commitment to The European Tour.”

Felipe Ortiz Patiño, President of Valderrama Golf Club, said: “We are very happy to be associated with the Junta de Andalucía and are sure that together we will organize one of the best events on the European Tour calendar.
“Valderrama has a wealth of experience in hosting world-class events, having hosted The 1997 Ryder Cup, the World Golf Championships in 1999 and 2000, and 16 editions of the Volvo Masters. Furthermore, the superb quality of its golf course has proven Valderrama to be the supreme championship venue in Continental Europe.

“The combination of these elements, together with the commitment of the Andalusian Government, guarantee a unique event which will not only be a worthy successor to those we have hosted in the past, but also the first of what we hope are many more tournaments.”

Mr. Jose Francisco Pérez Moreno, CEO of Empresa Pública Turismo Andaluz, said: “We are delighted to use the Andalucía Valderrama Masters as the flagship for promoting golf in Andalucía, not only as sport, but also as a tourist destination. Over the years, Valderrama has proved to be one of the most challenging and exciting venues for a world-class event. We have shown a very strong commitment with The European Tour by hosting three events in Andalucía in 2010, and two of them have produced two fantastic winners in Álvaro Quiros and Louis Oosthuizen.”