Garcia, Rahm Lead Loaded Field in Spain

By Wes Reynolds  () 

This week the Andalucia Masters returns to the iconic Real Club Valderrama in Spain. The tournament favorites are the two best Spanish golfers in the world, Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, each currently at 13/2. Garcia is the tournament host and has won the event three times. He also has 13 top-10 finishes in 14 events at Valderrama.

That superstar duo is followed closely in the marketplace by Matthew Fitzpatrick (10/1), who will be attempting to rebound from a playoff loss last week at the BMW International Open in Germany. Joost Luiten, the second-place finisher here in 2016 and 2017, follows at 18/1.

The Course

Valderrama was designed in 1985 by Robert Trent Jones Sr. In spite of playing as a Par 71 at only 7,000 yards, this is one of the more challenging tracks in all of professional golf on any tour. The Bermuda Tifway fairways are very narrow and undulating and the European Tour pros will have to hit the difficult fairways in order to reach these tiny, sloping and fast Bentgrass greens, that measure around 12.6 on the stimpmeter. Valderrama has hosted many events including the first ever Ryder Cup (1997) in continental Europe, the Volvo Masters (1988-1996, 2002-2008) and the WGC American Express Championship (1999-2000) and has been home to this event since 2017. The tournament has been played in October the last two years but moves to June this season.

Recent History/Winners

2018: Sergio Garcia -12 (4/1); 54 holes

2017: Sergio Garcia -12 (5/1)

2016: Andrew Johnston 1 (100/1)

2012-2016: No Event

2011: Sergio Garcia -6 (8/1)

2010: Graeme McDowell -3 (14/1)

Note: Andrew Johnston’s win here in 2016 was at the Open De España.

Volvo Masters was played here from 1988-2008.

2008: Søren Kjeldsen -8

2007: Justin Rose -1

2006: Jeev Milkha Singh -2

2005: Paul McGinley -10

2004: Ian Poulter -7

The Picks

Joost Luiten 18/1

He’s got a course form of 11-2-2 in his last three trips to Valderrama. Luiten ranks 2nd in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 6th in GIR and 9th in Strokes Gained Approach.

Ross Fisher 40/1

Currently ranked #1 in Strokes Gained Approach on the European Tour, he is still trying to earn a spot in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush. The top 3 finishers otherwise not qualified that finish in the Top 10 can earn spots this week.

Adrian Otaegui 40/1

Four Top 25s in his last six events. He was the runner-up in Perth earlier this season. Another Spaniard behind the big two that will be highly motivated to win this event.

Andrew Johnston 50/1

“Beef” won here in his course debut at the 2016 Open de España. He’s another player trying to make the Open.

Richie Ramsay 60/1

An accurate driver and ball striker, Ramsay has spoken of his affinity for this course. He finished 3rd here at his Valderrama debut in 2011.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 100/1

Prior to last week’s missed cut, GFC had three straight top 25 finishes. The 38 year-old Spaniard finished 5th here last season.

U.S. SENIOR OPEN

The U.S. Senior Open turns 40 this year but the age-50- and-above players go back to college this week as they will play the Warren Golf Course at the University of Notre Dame.

Steve Stricker, the winner of the year’s first major at the Regions Tradition, tops the market at 5/1. He’s followed by Jerry Kelly, last week’s winner at the American Family Insurance Championship in his Wisconsin backyard, at 8/1. Scott McCarron, already a three-time winner this season on the PGA Tour Champions, checks in at 10/1 and the ageless Bernhard Langer, the second all-time winner on the over 50 circuit with 39 wins (Hale Irwin, 45), is at 11/1. Defending champion David Toms comes in at 14/1. Ken Tanigawa, the last major winner at the Senior PGA Championship, is currently listed at 33/1.

The Course The Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame was designed in 1999 by the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. It will play as a 6,943-yard, par 70. The rough should be grown out to at least 3.5 inches with fast greens, like a typical U.S. Open.

Recent History/Winners

2018: David Toms (-3) Broadmoor GC

2017: Kenny Perry (-16) Salem CC

2016: Gene Sauers (-3) Scioto CC

2015: Jeff Maggert (-10) Del Paso CC

2014: Colin Montgomerie (-5) Oak Tree National

2013: Kenny Perry (-13) Omaha CC

2012: Roger Chapman (-10) Indianwood G&CC

2011: Olin Browne (-15) Inverness Club

2010: Bernhard Langer (-8) Sahalee CC

2009: Fred Funk (-20) Crooked Stick GC

The Picks Scott Parel 14/1

He only played five career PGA Tour events and actually worked as a computer programmer and database administrator for 10 years after college before moving to professional golf. A two-time winner on the PGA Tour Champions, he has incredible form starting back in late March, losing a 7-hole playoff in Mississippi to Kevin Sutherland. He’s finished top 8 or better in six of the last eight events including three seconds. Needless to say he’s knocking on the door for a win.

Retief Goosen 17/1

He just turned 50 in February so this is his rookie season on the “senior tour.” “Goose” came closest to his first win last week losing in a playoff, along with Steve Stricker, to Jerry Kelly. No shame there going head to head with two Wisconsin guys in their hometowns. Goosen is a guy that knows how to grind and win U.S. Opens. He did it twice in 2001 (Southern Hills) and 2004 (Shinnecock Hills).

Darren Clarke 150/1

It’s at Notre Dame. Pretty much have to take a long shot with an Irishman, right? He hasn’t won in his rookie season yet but does have three top 10s and two top 5s.

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