Open de Andalucia preview

The European Tour heads for Spain this week and the Open de Andalucia Costa del Sol. Scotland’s Paul Lawrie defends the title at the Aloha Golf Club in Marbella.

Paul Lawrie defends Open de Andalucia (Getty Images)

Lowdown: The European Tour heads for Spain this week and the Open de Andalucia Costa del Sol. Scotland's Paul Lawrie defends the title at the Aloha Golf Club in Marbella. This will be the sixth staging of the Open de Andalucia and the event returns to the Aloha Golf Club for the first time since 2008. Thomas Levet won that time after Lee Westwood took the title in 2007. From 2009, the champions have been: Soren Kjeldsen, Louis Oosthuizen and then Paul Lawrie. Last season, Lawrie picked up his first win on the European Tour since 2002, finishing a shot clear of Sweden's Johan Edfors. The Scot is back to defend this year and will be one of five Major champions who tee it up. The others are: Jose Maria Olazabal, Michael Campbell, Rich Beem and Mike Weir. There will also be a strong home showing with tournament host Miguel Angel Jimenez, Rafael Cabrera Bello and Gonazlo Fernadez Castano among the more favoured Spaniards this week. Located inland from Peurto Banus, Aloha opened for play back in 1975, designed by Javier Arana. It's not a long course by modern standards and it's not power-hitting that will win the tournament. Placement from the tee and accurate approach play is the objective.

Venue: Aloha GC, Andalucia, Spain Date: Mar 15-18 Course stats: par 72, 6,881 yards Purse: €1,000,000 Winner: €166,660 Defending Champion: Paul Lawrie (-12)

TV Coverage: Thursday 15 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 11am Friday 16 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 11am Saturday 17 - Live on Sky Sports 2 from 1pm Sunday 18 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 1pm

Player Watch: Paul Lawrie - The defending champion, currently sixth on the Race to Dubai and in an automatic qualifying spot on the Ryder Cup points list, will be looking to continue his recent form in this event. A good result here would secure him a start in the 2012 US Masters.

Robert Rock - The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship winner is currently 56th on the Official World Golf Ranking and needs a solid top-three result here to have a chance of making it to Augusta. He played well in last week's Cadillac Championship so watch out for him in this one.

Oliver Fisher - He was second in this event last time it was held at Aloha back in 2008. He's not been on great form so far this season but could use a course he's enjoyed success on as a springboard for his year.

Key Hole: 16th. A par 5 but, at 526 yards, it should be reachable in two for most of the field. As it's a dog-leg left it demands a draw for both tee shot and approach.

Skills Required: Accuracy. Precise approach play will be key to scoring here.

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?