Tuesday, 22 April 2003
Sergio Garcia returns to Europe for the first time this season to defend the Canarias Open de España title at Golf Costa Adeje in Tenerife this week.

Victory by a Spanish player is, naturally, greeted with additional joy from the home crowd and so it was when Garcia won his first European Tour title on home soil 12 months ago. The 23 year old survived a tense final round at El Cortijo Club de Campo when, having started the final day five strokes clear of Emanuele Canonica, saw his lead cut to just one before securing a four shot victory with birdies at the 14th and 16th holes.

This week Garcia will be seeking to become the first player since Max Faulkner exactly 50 years ago to successfully defend the title.

The home challenge is further augmented by José Maria Olazábal with the double Masters Champion seeking to capture the title for the first time and become only the fourth Spaniard to win their national title since the birth of The European Tour, following in the footsteps of Seve Ballesteros (1981, 1985, 1995), Garcia and Antonio Garrido (1972).

Olazábal rekindled his form a fortnight ago when he finished in a share for eighth place in the Masters Tournament.

He previously enjoyed success in the Canary Islands having won the 1989 Tenerife Open, the 1992 Turespaña Open de Tenerife and the 1997 Turespaña Masters Open de Canarias.

Europe's victorious 2002 Ryder Cup team is also strongly represented with Paul McGinley and Phillip Price joining Garcia while champions from The 2003 European Tour International Schedule are also prominent in the field with Paul Casey, Robert-Jan Derksen, Bradley Dredge, Darren Fichardt, and last week’s winner in Portugal, Fredrik Jacobson, all heading for Tenerife.

The island of Tenerife will be hosting the event for the first time since 1964. The regional Government of Canarias, the Sociedad de Promocion Exterior de Tenerife, the company responsible for the promotion of Tenerife abroad, and Turespaña, the Spanish National Tourist Board, have co-sponsored the tournament in an effort to position the Canary Islands and Tenerife as a first class golfing destination.

Golf Costa Adeje, designed by José Gancedo, boasts superb views over the Atlantic Ocean and the spectacular Teide Volcano.

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