Madrid Masters Preview

The European Tour is in Spain this week for the Madrid Masters. Ross McGowan attempts to defend the title but he’ll face stiff competition from a strong field.

Ross McGowan defends

Lowdown: The European Tour is in Spain this week for the Madrid Masters. Ross McGowan attempts to defend the title but he'll face stiff competition from a strong field. The Madrid Masters has been moved in the 2010 European Tour schedule from October to May and will be contested at a different venue from last season. The Real Sociedad Hípica Española Club de Campo designed by Robert Von Hagge is an attractive parkland course that opened in 1997. It played host to the Madrid Open in 2007 won by Mads Vibe-Hastrup. Sergio Garcia is back playing on the European Tour for the first time since The Masters and the Spaniard will be looking to gain some, much-needed, Ryder Cup points - he's currently in 17th place on both the European and World Ryder Cup points lists. Another man trying to climb into an automatic qualifying spot for Colin Montgomerie's team is Luke Donald. He starts in Madrid after finishing runner-up in last week's BMW PGA Championship. Ross McGowan of England defends the title he won at the Centro Nacional de Golf in some style last October. "Last year I shot 60 on the Saturday which gave me a seven shot lead in the final round," he said. "It's not the same course and this year's is not one I'm familiar with, but I love Madrid and always enjoy going there. It's a beautiful city with a lot going on." Alvaro Quiros and Miguel Angel Jimenez will join Sergio Garcia as home favourites while tournament host Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño will be looking to build on a solid finish at Wentworth last week.

Venue: Real Sociedad Hípica Española Club de Campo Date: May 27-30 Course stats: par 72, 7,162 yards Purse: €1,500,000 Winner: €250,000 Defending Champion: Ross McGowan (-25)

TV Coverage: Thursday 27 - Live on Sky Sports 2 from 11.30am Friday 28 - Live on Sky Sports 2 from 11.30am Saturday 29 - Live on Sky Sports 4 from 1pm Sunday 30 - Live on Sky Sports 4 from 1pm

Player Watch: Sergio Garcia - The Spaniard will be looking for his fourth European Tour victory on home soil. He'll be hoping his game picks up as we head towards the summer Majors. Martin Kaymer - The German was late to confirm his participation in the tournament but will make a welcome addition to the field. When he's on his game, he's very tough to beat. Luke Donald - Fresh off a great performance at the BMW Championship, the Englishman will look to continue his run. He's on a mission to accumulate Ryder Cup points and will be determined to get the very most out of his visit to Spain.

Key hole: 9th. A monstrous par 5 of 653 yards, even Alvaro Quiros will have his work cut out to reach this one in two. A dog-leg to the left, it will play as a proper par 5 and will demand three well thought out and accurate shots.

Skills required: Tournament host Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño believes a key to success around the Real Sociedad Hipica is having the ability to play off slopes. It's an undulating course and there are few totally flat lies to be found, even on the fairways.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?