Andalucia Masters Preview7 min read
The European Tour moves on to Spain this week and the star of the show is undoubtedly Valderrama. The classic tree-lined course has proved a hugely demanding test down the years with major champions such as Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell among the impressive list of winners.
With a move to June this year, the 7,001 yard par 71 is likely to play even tougher with soaring heat leading to firm and fast conditions. This week’s assignment is not about power with strong course management required. Hitting plenty of greens in regulation and a sharp short game is vital to keeping the bogeys off the card with low scores highly unlikely in Spain.
Jon Rahm is joint favourite this week although the Spaniard missed the cut on his sole start two years ago and may not have the patience yet to conquer Valderrama. Matt Fitzpatrick lost in a play-off last week and the Englishman should be well suited to this course but he is a debutant and can be passed over at 9/1.
Garcia in a class of his own at Valderrama
Sergio Garcia is the king of Valderrama with an outstanding course record and the home favourite has to make the staking plan. The defending champion has won three of the last four tournaments held here and finished inside the top ten in all but one of his 14 appearances. With three runner-up finishes alongside his victories, there is no doubt Garcia is the man to beat this week.
Garcia’s recent indifferent form poses a slight concern but the 39-year-old comes alive at his favourite course in the world. Seven of his 15 European Tour victories have come in Spain so his comfort level on home soil is obvious. Garcia ranks first this season for greens in regulation and second for strokes gained on approach. With a peerless record at Valderrama, Garcia can find inspiration on his return and is a worthy favourite at 6/1.
Joost Luiten is another course specialist and could be poised to finally get his hands on a trophy at Valderrama this weekend. Luiten has an excellent record at this tough track, finishing second in 2016 and 2017. He was an impressive fifth on debut at the course in 2010 and 11th place last year was a strong effort, considering it was his first start after a five month lay-off with a wrist injury.
Luiten is a six-time winner on the European Tour and his reliable long game should set him up for another big week in Spain. The 33-year-old is second this season for strokes gained tee to green and eighth for strokes gained on approach. Luiten finished eighth at the British Masters last month and also posted top tens at the WGC in Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi this year. Luiten will be excited about competing at one of his favourite courses and merits support at 20/1 each way.
Korhonen can handle demanding test
Mikko Korhonen is a relatively late bloomer but the Finn should not be discounted in Spain this week. The 38-year-old clinched his maiden European Tour victory last June at the Shot Clock Masters. He backed this up impressively last month with a win at the China Open and appears to be getting better with age.
Korhonen finished third at Valderrama in last year’s tournament and will be confident on his return as a two-time European Tour winner. Sitting inside the top 25 for greens in regulation and strokes gained on approach, he has the long game reliability to keep out of trouble at the track. Korhonen is fancied to challenge for a third title in the space of 12 months at 50/1 each way.
Guido Migliozzi warrants another chance this week with the confident Italian capable of getting into contention. The 22-year-old could not have asked for a better start to his first season on the European Tour, with two victories already. His maiden win came at the Kenya Open in March and he followed this up with success at the Belgian Knockout at the start of this month.
Both of Migliozzi’s wins came on tight, tree-lined courses which share some similarities with this week’s layout. Valderrama will of course be much more challenging but significantly Migliozzi has some valuable experience, after missing the cut as a teenager three years ago. He returns a two-time European Tour winner and has shown considerable maturity and composure in both victories. Ranked inside the top 20 for strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained on approach, Migliozzi has the talent to challenge in Andalucia at 66/1 each way.
Sergio Garcia each way
Joost Luiten each way
Mikko Korhonen each way
Guido Migliozzi each way