Sergio Garcia hosts and defends the Andalucia Valderrama Masters this week

Andalucia Valderrama Masters Leaderboard, Preview, TV Times

The Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation returns this week with Ryder Cup record points scorer Sergio Garcia hosting, headlining and defending the title at Valderrama.

The Spaniard makes his first start since Le Golf National here in a tournament that he has won in the last two playings.

The Andalucia Valderrama Masters began in 2010 but this is only the fourth edition.

Graeme McDowell won the inaugural event before Garcia won in both 2011 and 2017.

Garcia capped an incredible 2017 with victory at Valderrama last year after winning the Dubai Desert Classic and his maiden major title at Augusta earlier in the year.

Sergio is joined in the field this week by European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn who tees it up alongside Vice Captains Lee WestwoodPadraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson.

Valderrama is a happy hunting ground for Sergio Garcia. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Barring those, it is not the strongest field with just one player from the European Ryder Cup side competing, and that is defending champion and host Garcia.

Last time out, Garcia beat Joost Luiten by a stroke to win his 14th European Tour title.

The course at Valderrama is one of Spain’s best-known having hosted 16 Volvo Masters, the 1997 Ryder Cup, the Valderrama Masters of 2010 and 2011 and the 2016 Open de Espana.

Constructed in 1974 by Robert Trent Jones Snr, it was expanded and improved when the club was acquired by Jaime Ortiz-Patiño in 1984.

Further alterations were made for the 2016 Open de Espana when cork trees were pruned on a number of holes.

Sergio Garcia defends and hosts Valderrama Masters

Sergio Garcia won the tournament in 2011 as well

It is renowned as one of the most difficult courses in the world and always poses a stern challenge to competitors.

The tournament is set to benefit charities supported by the Sergio Garcia Foundation. All funds raised from this year’s tournament will go towards interior design project for an X-ray unit in the Hospital Universitario La Paz, Madrid.

The weather forecast looks like it could be slightly wet on Thursday and Friday but nicer for the weekend with highs of 21 celsius.

Venue: Real Club Valderrama, Sotogrande, Spain
Date: Oct 18-21
Course stats: par 71, 6,991 yards
Purse: €2,000,000 (2017)
Defending champion: Sergio Garcia (-12)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 19 –Sky Sports Golf and Main Event from 11am, Sky Sports Golf and Main Event from 2.30pm
Friday 20 –Sky Sports Golf and Main Event from 11am, Sky Sports Golf and Main Event from 2.30pm
Saturday 21 –Sky Sports Golf from 1pm, Sky Sports Main Event 3.15pm
Sunday 22 – Sky Sports Golf from 12.30pm

Player Watch:

Sergio Garcia – The tournament host won this event the last two times it was contested in 2017 and 2011 and is the overwhelming favourite this week.

Shane Lowry – The Irishman is second-favourite with the bookies after a decent British Masters which followed his sixth place finish in Portugal. Lowry was T12th here last year as well.

Joost Luiten – Runner-up here last time out, Luiten actually finished four clear of third place so was battling it out with Garcia down the stretch. He isn’t on great form but returning to Valderrama may bring back good memories.

Key hole: 17th. A brilliant risk and reward par five. 536 yards with water short of the green so the approach must be perfect, anything a little too soft will roll back into the hazard.

Skills required: Course management and patience. Valderrama requires a tactical approach and damage limitation is often the order of the day. It’s not a course that generally produces low scoring.