Monday, 31 March 2014
Pedro Oriol (Thomas Mbuvi)  (EuropeanTour)
Pedro Oriol (Thomas Mbuvi) (EuropeanTour)
Spaniard Pedro Oriol will be hoping to build on his strong start to the Challenge Tour season this week when he returns to his home country for the lucrative dual-ranking NH Collection Open at La Reserva de Sotogrande Club de Golf.

Sotogrande features on The European Tour International Schedule for the first time this week with a field of 144 players battling it out for the €600,000 prize fund.

While that money will be capped to €450,000 for the Challenge Tour Rankings, it still stands as one of the biggest events of the season on the second tier, so for players like Oriol this event almost holds ‘Major’ status in the context of the season.

“This tournament is huge for us on the Challenge Tour so I'm really looking forward to it,” said the 27 year old, who took a share of second place at the season-opening Barclays Kenya Open. 

“I'm confident with my game. I won a small event in Spain recently and then played well in Kenya so I'm very happy with my game.

“I have the game to win, so why not? I just need to do the right things and keep my game going the way it has been lately. 

“There are a lot of golf fans in that area so I hope we get some good crowds. There are lots of international golfers living there so hopefully they will all come out and support the event.”

Sotogrande is regarded as one of most prestigious courses in Spain and Oriol is excited to take on a venue with which he is very familiar, one he believes will provide a stern test for the European Tour and Challenge Tour players.

“I'm from Madrid but I have spent some summer holidays over there so I know all the courses,” he said. “Sotogrande is really nice and it’s going to be a really good week.

“If it’s windy it’s going to be really difficult. The Spanish International Amateur Championship was played there not so long ago and the scores were very high. It’s a long course so I would say it will be a good week for long hitters. 

“Right now the more tournaments for Spain the better it is for golf and for the players. This tournament is great news for the country.”

The Challenge Tour side of the field is led by the winner of the Barclays Kenya Open, Jake Roos, as the South African aims to build his career in Europe having experienced huge success on the Sunshine Tour, winning six times.

Oriol is joined by a host of Spanish compatriots, including the 2010 Challenge Tour Number One Alvaro Velasco and two-time Challenge Tour graduate José Manuel Lara, who also has two European Tour titles to his name.

The European Tour half of the field includes numerous multiple winners, including Simon Khan of England, Irishman Shane Lowry and Germany’s Marcel Siem.

Home favourite Alejandro Cañizares, meanwhile, will be hoping to become the first Spanish winner of back-to-back strokeplay titles since Sergio Garcia in 2011. The Malaga man, who won the Trophée Hassan II two weeks ago, is attached to the nearby Valderrama Golf Club.

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