José Maria Olazábal makes his seasonal debut in Europe as he seeks to win the Canarias Open de España for the first time at Fuerteventura Golf Club.
The double Masters Champion has 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 but victory in his national Open has so far eluded him.
Since the birth of The European Tour in 1972 there have only been three home winners of the title, the most recent being Sergio Garcia, who secured victory at El Cortijo Club de Campo, Gran Canaria, in 2002, to follow in the footsteps of Seve Ballesteros (1981, 1985, 1995) and Antonio Garrido (1972).
In addition to Olazábal, the home challenge this year will also feature Carlos Rodiles who will be looking to go one better than his runner-up finishes in the 2002 Trophée Lancôme and the Volvo Masters Andalucia last year, where he lost out Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson at the fourth extra hole of a sudden-death play-off in a tense season finale.
Rodiles has made steady progress since graduating from the Challenge Tour in 2000, climbing from 106th to 43rd and then 24th in the Volvo Order of Merit over the past three seasons but has not played since retiring from the Dubai Desert Classic in March suffering from a rib injury.
England’s Kenneth Ferrie will be defending the title following his play-off victory over Sweden’s Peter Hedblom and Ireland’s Peter Lawrie at Golf Costa Adeja, Tenerife, last year. Other past champions in the field include the Swedish trio of Joakim Haeggman (1993), Robert Karlsson (2001) and Jarmo Sandelin (1999).
Haeggman is the most recent Tour Champion in the field having won the Qatar Masters last month, his third European Tour title, while Germany’s Marcel Siem (dunhill championship) and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (Carlsberg Malaysian Open) will also be looking for their second victories of the season.
Fuerteventura Golf Club was designed Juan Catarineu and opened in 1992.