Pushed European counterpart Rory McIlroy all the way in a thrilling finale to the 143rd Open Championship at Hoylake this year, finishing in a tie for second, thanks to a wonderful final round 66. Continued his love affair with The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, where the Spaniard only lost one of his four matches. Enjoyed a highly consistent 2013 season, which reaped no fewer than eight top-20 finishes in 12 starts. Confirmed his return to form in 2012 by winning the Wyndham Championship on the US PGA Tour to qualify for the European Ryder Cup Team, then played an instrumental part in the ‘Miracle at Medinah’. Beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker alongside Luke Donald in the Saturday Fourballs, then claimed a crucial point against Jim Furyk in the Singles as Europe mounted an astonishing comeback. A year earlier had back-to-back victories in the Castelló Masters – at his home course, Club de Campo del Mediterraneo – and the Andalucía Masters to put two years of frustration behind him. Had slipped down the World Ranking during that time and struggled for form. Reached World Number Two in late 2008 when he won the HSBC Champions, the first event in The 2009 Race to Dubai, defeating Oliver Wilson in a play-off at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai. Won one of the game’s biggest titles at the 2008 Players’ Championship after a sudden-death play-off. Came agonisingly close to his first Major victory at the US PGA Championship only to be denied by Padraig Harrington, the man who edged him out of The 136th Open Championship at Carnoustie after a dramatic play-off. Eight years earlier, was second to Tiger Woods in the 1999 US PGA Championship as a teenager. In previous Ryder Cup appearances he was unbeaten on the first two days at The K Club in 2006 to become only the second European, after Ian Woosnam, to win four points from the foursomes and fourball matches. Two years earlier, he had become one of only six players to claim four and a half points out of a possible five in The Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills. Was also a Vice Captain to Colin Montgomerie at The 2010 Ryder Cup, where Europe beat the United States by a point. Turned professional on 21st April 1999, after becoming the first Amateur Champion to finish low amateur in the Masters Tournament.