Sergio Garcia returns to the golf course on which he crafted his talent to defend the CASTELLÓ MASTERS Costa Azahar this week as Martin Kaymer makes his comeback to The Race to Dubai.
Garcia, hosting the event at the Club de Campo del Mediterráneo where his father is still the club professional, used his knowledge of the course to finish three shots ahead of Swedish pair Peter Hedblom and Alexander Noren last year.
He said: “Winning the CASTELLÓ MASTERS was one of the most emotional moments of my career. It was a dream come true and a very special victory in front of all my family, friends and members of the club where I have grown up as a player and as a person. Many people came to watch that day and they made me feel they wanted me to win, which is something I will never forget. I started crying during the prize giving as it was so emotional!”
Garcia is currently 13th in The Race to Dubai, having started the season with victory in the HSBC Champions in China, and the Spaniard will be hoping to close the gap on the leading pack, which includes the returning Kaymer.
The German did not play in the CASTELLÓ MASTERS Costa Azahar last year, but will use it this week to resume his challenge to be Europe’s number one, having spent the past seven weeks recovering from a broken foot suffered in a go-karting accident.
“I am really looking forward to getting back out on the golf course and trying to make up for lost ground on The Race to Dubai,” said Kaymer. “My foot has healed well and the doctor has told me that I am fit to play, to put pressure on the foot and play normally. Obviously this is my first tournament back so I do not know exactly how I am going to feel after 72 holes, but I think that it will be alright.”
Kaymer’s enforced absence meant the 24 year old relinquished his lead at the top of The Race to Dubai Rankings, with Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood hitting form over the past few weeks to overhaul him.
“Hopefully I can get back to the form that I was in before the accident because I was playing great and was top in The Race to Dubai after my victory in France in the summer,” Kaymer added. “If I can get back to that kind of form then I have a chance to win tournaments and The Race to Dubai itself, but I have to be patient and make sure I am confident that my foot is 100 per cent this week.”
In addition to Garcia there is a strong Spanish contingent in José Maria Olazábal, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Pablo Larrazabal. Argentine Angel Cabrera, Northern Irishman Darren Clarke, Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie and Englishman Justin Rose are also in the field. It will be Masters Champion Cabrera’s first appearance in Continental Europe since The Open Championship in July, where he finished joint 24th.
The CASTELLÓ MASTERS also represents one of the final chances of the season for players to secure their card for next year, and Frenchman François Delamontagne is again facing a battle to make the top 115, having just retained his card last year.
A tied 16th finish in Portugal last week, earning him €40,500, helped his cause, and he said: “It’s always tough. It’s a little bit different from last year but very close to the same position. But I play very badly for the first three or four months of the season. So it’s normal to be in this situation. I need points and it was very important to make a good score [in the final round of the Portugal Masters]. It has given me a lot of confidence.
“I’ve hit the ball well for the last three or four months. Last year it was a bit different because I didn’t have much confidence in my swing. The short game was okay but the swing was bad, and at the moment the swing is quite good, so it’s the same position but not exactly the same feeling.”