Ballesteros, who won the amateur Madrid Open last year, is yet to join the professional ranks and will compete as a sponsor’s invitation in the €160,000 tournament, which is the first Challenge Tour event of the 2013 season to be played on European soil.The 22 year old, who is currently studying Law at Madrid’s Complutense University, made his first appearance in a professional event at the Peugeot Alps de Barcelona on the Alps Tour last April, when he finished in a tie for 12th place, 12 shots behind European Tour champion Pablo Larrazábal.
Ballesteros will be joined in the field by Jordi Garcia Pinto, currently second in the Challenge Tour Rankings thanks to his victory in the Barclays Kenya Open; and their compatriot Pedro Oriol, who recorded his highest European Tour finish of tied 16th in the 2011 Madrid Masters at El Encín Golf Hotel, host venue of the Challenge de Madrid.Oriol said: “I am doubly grateful to the Madrid and Spanish Federations, as I am member of their youth programmes which have helped me a lot. If I can achieve my aim of becoming a world-class player, they know I will always be there for them.
“El Encín is a course that suits my game – I had my best finish on Tour there at the Madrid Masters, and I hope I can do well this time. I want to thank the Federations for their efforts with this event, and also with the invitations they give us to play in other countries.”Ignacio Guerras, President of Federación de Golf de Madrid, said: “El Encin Golf is such a great venue, it will be a true test and it is very satisfying to see the quality of players who will be there.”
Joaquín Molpeceres, President of El Encín Golf Hotel, said: “We care passionately about the golf course, and are very excited to be hosting such a well-organised tournament as the Challenge de Madrid.”Jorge Sagardoy, Manager of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, said: “The idea to hold a Challenge Tour event in Madrid came to us some time ago, and I would like to congratulate the Madrid and Cataluña Federations for joining forces.”
Amadeo Ferrajolí, Manager at Federación Cataluña de Golf, said: “We very much appreciate this agreement. We have some high class young players in Spain, and the more events like this that they play, the better chance they have of reaching the main Tour.“There will be six players from Cataluña, including Jordi Garcia Pinto, and we hope to see him and many other Spanish players on the main Tour soon.”
Javier Gervás, from the tournament promoters MatchGolf, said: “It is one of the strongest fields assembled for a Challenge Tour event. This was made possible thanks to the union of the three Federations, and the support of El Encin Golf. Thanks to the support of the Federations, this year we will have two events on the Challenge Tour and four on the Alps Tour.“I would also like to congratulate the Challenge Tour on reaching their 25th anniversary. This is the Tour of opportunities, where the players can follow the examples of Edoardo Molinari, Justin Rose, Alvaro Quiros and Martin Kaymer.”