Re-Cap from last week and the Italian Open.
What a cracking weeks golf, I got to play 4 of the top 100 courses in England over last week and even got to play 18 holes behind Justin Rose at Walton Heath on Thursday whilst he was checking out the venue for next years British Masters (which I am now 99% confident the event will be held there and I even know the composite layout and alterations he is considering way ahead of anyone else.) Later that day I got my 6th hole in one, an arrow like 6 iron from 196 yards on the new courses 10th hole. Then there was all the excitement of this weeks event on he European tour, birdies galore, loads of drama right down to the wire and a very deserved back to back winner in Tyrell Hatton
A great week for our readers and a great week for me.. We had 15 of 18 players make the cut. 10 players inside the top 15 and most importantly we had your winner, your runner up, 4th place and 3 players tied for 6th.
All of this meant that come Sunday morning I was topping all the contests and had an exciting days golf to sweat out on Sunday. Now unfortunately my line ups didn't hold but all of them were still good enough to cash really well. The very best of my line ups placed 7th in the $12k Fore and my weekend line up was good enough to place 4th in the equivalent contest.
Now all I need to do is carry this incredible luck into this week and hopefully provide us all with the key to getting in the mix yet again but this time in Spain.
Next Up - Andalucia Valderamma Masters
After all the excitement of the Italian Open the European Tour moves on to Spain to play its final rounds on European soil. And what a perfect way to end home soil events by hosting this tournament at one of the very best around.
Hosted by Masters champion Sergio Garcia the Andalucia Valderrama Masters will take part for only the 3rd time and the 1st time since 2011. However its tournament venue has hosted many events throughout recent years and any tournament played on this amazing course is one to look forward to and enjoy.
Not only golfers will benefit this week as all funds raised during this event will go towards a cause promoted by our tournament host Sergio, He set up his charitable foundation back in 2002 and this time a local hospital will receive funding to vastly improve its facilities.
Home to the Volvo Masters (1988-96 and 2002-2008), the Ryder Cup (1997), the World Golf Championships (1999-2000), the Andalucía Masters (2010-2011) and Open de España (2016). - Valderrama surpasses its reputation as Europe's number one course.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones and lovingly maintained by founder and original owner Jaime Ortiz Patiño for many years, this is one of the continent's toughest challenges.
This has to be one of my favourite courses, stunning to look at, clever in design and simply awesome to play. Measuring just 6,991 yards and with a par of 71 this extremely tough layout will test the patience of the participants this week.
Narrow, intimidating tee shots to sloping fairways lined by cork trees that are further guarded by intelligent bunkering and lush rough, small targets to aim at and once on the dance floor the quick and undulating greens will further frustrate.
The green speed is anticipated to be at 12ft 6" during tournament play, might be a little slower on Thursday with the over night rain but still going to be slick and quicker than the majority of events players have played recently.
3 water hazards come in to play during the round, these feature on holes 4, 10 and 17 and bring in a little risk/reward for 2 of its 3 par 5's.
Over the past couple of weeks leading up to the tournament the course has experienced perfect preparation conditions with scattered showers and glorious sunshine. The rain will still be present throughout Wednesday and still falling until just after the first tee shots are hit the following morning. Then throughout Thursday it slowly warms up and from there on in we can expect light winds and more sunshine.
Key Stats and Strategy
Accuracy off the tee and into the green will be the main advantage any player could ask for on this course.
With this event I don't feel there is a significant advantage to be on one half of the draw or the other.
Due to the weather conditions leading up to the event and the weather that's forecast. Its fair to assume scoring will be far better than last year and there should be more scoring opportunities on offer with softer targets to hit in to. Something around -9 on Sunday is my prediction of a winning total.
Measuring just under 7,000 yards this course doesn't require a bomber to score well. Getting the ball in position and hitting your targets are crucial and when the odd error creeps in that get out of jail card of a special short game will pay huge dividends.
The greens here are pure but extremely tricky, quicker than most events on tour and awkwardly undulating. Great skills with putter in hand and a vast amount of experience on these greens will be something I weight relatively highly.
Course form and course knowledge is a huge benefit, knowing the lines and knowing you can play this course well eases the pressure in a big way. This is obvious to see when looking at the history of events played on this course and taking into account how intimidating some of the shots can be.
Not all the big names will feature in this event but it has a fantastic level of support from its home nation players including the very best they have to offer in Rahm and Garcia. With many of the other household names taking some time off and getting ready for the WGC event and next Rolex series event others are presented with an extremely valuable opportunity to retain their playing rights for next year.
Sergio Garcia $11,700 - Sergio has owned this course over the last 10 events played here. Has never missed the cut, only been outside the top 10 once, finished runner up 3 times, came 3rd last year behind Beef and Joost and picked up victory here back in 2011. With all of this in mind he appears to be the obvious pick, however due to current form not being exactly sensational since winning the Masters and with the supposed added pressure of hosting the event I'm hearing a fair few are considering fading him and looking further down the pricing. Personally I believe hosting the event will only create added incentive and he will be massively determined to show off in front of the huge home support that will be following him this week.
Jon Rahm $11,500 - The super talented young Spaniard has the game, the skill set and most certainly the passion to perform well on home soil. There are questions regarding course fit and weather or not he can keep the ball in play on these very narrow and intimidating tee shots however with his power he always has the option to hit less club from the tee to find position. From there his iron play and exquisite short game should work perfectly on this very demanding layout. This will be his debut appearance in tournament play on this course but Valderrama certainly isn't shy off coughing up a debut winner just like last year with 'Beef' and you can be sure that Jon is more than familiar with the layout and the requirements it will ask of him to be successful.
Joost Luiten $9,800 - Such a solid player from tee to green, minimalizes his mistakes and keeps his score ticking over. Has played in the last 3 events here at Valderrama, placed 5th in 2010, MC in 2011 and placed 2nd last year. Form is also decent coming into this event and showing signs of being close to finding that next gear in his game. All 4 round in Italy where in the 60's, has made the cut comfortably in his last 3 events. If looking for a more balanced line up or playing cash this could be the perfect player to front your line up.
$8,000 - $9,000
Alexander Bjork $8,900 - Very much an accuracy style player and regular cut maker with 20/26 this season. Played really well for the 1st 3 rounds of the Italian Open, Shame to see him fade away on Sunday but I certainly saw enough then to get me thinking about drafting him well before prices were released. I doubt too many will be tempted to pay this price and could be relatively low owned.
Robert Karlsson $8,800 - Looks like he has found something that's working for him and definitely looking more confident on and around the greens. Played really well in Italy and maybe a little unlucky to have finished as low as 32nd, missed the cut at the links champs but as I mentioned in my last write up something I'm happy to ignore when considering form, especially as the event prior to that he paced 3rd at the British Masters. Hasn't played here since 2008 but in his 6 attempts has never missed the cut and has an average finish of 23rd.
Matt Wallace $8,300 - Debut European Tour tournament at this course, but swinging so well right now accuracy should be of little concern to him right now. I know Matt will want to get back in the mix again as quickly as he can after narrowly missing out in Italy and rather than dwell on what could of been or what was, it will be focus straight towards the next challenge and ready to contend again.
$7,000 - $8,000
Steve Webster $7,800
Alejandro Canizares $7,600
Nino Bertasio $7,300
Gregory Bourdy $7,100
Jorge Campillo $7,100
$7,000 or less
Marcel Siem $7,000
Pablo Larrazabal $6,900
Tom Lewis $6,800
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano $6,800
Well Ladies and Gents all though its not the last event of the European Tour season just yet it is the last event that will be played on European soil until the week after next years Masters at Augusta National.
Next week I'll be on a break whilst the best golfers from both sides of the pond come together to compete in the WGC event in China and then I'll be back to cover the last 3 Rolex Series events of the season including the season closer DP World Tour Champs in Dubai.
As always feel free to fire those questions across to me on Twitter @AshleyMorrisson. Hope you all have a great fantastic end to the week, all hopefully signed off with some lovely green screens and healthier DK balances