Colin Montgomerie will attempt to add a fourth European Tour International Schedule title on Spanish soil to an already glittering golfing CV when he headlines the field for the Andalucia Open de España Valle Romano at the San Roque Club this week.
The 42 year old Scot has already tasted victory in this event itself – at Club de Campo in 1994 – and has also garnered two Volvo Masters titles at nearby Club de Golf Valderrama too, the first one outright in 1993 with the second one shared with Bernhard Langer in 2002.
Now, following his tie for third in last week’s BMW Asian Open at the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club in China, the eight time European Tour Order of Merit winner has jetted back west to begin a run of tournaments in his native Europe.
Having achieved virtually everything in the game, it is a reasonable question to ask what is behind his motivation to still put in all the miles of travel to tee up. The answer is simple, and comes from the man himself.
“I love the competition, simple as that, and that is the thing that keeps me motivated,” he said. “I love to try and win and going out and beating 155 other guys is a thrill and that keeps me going. I am very competitive and, to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever lose that competitive edge.”
That is bad news for the rest of the field should Montgomerie find himself in contention come Sunday afternoon at the course which returned to the schedule as a tournament venue last year as well as still being host for the Qualifying School Final Stage, a role it has fulfilled nine times in the last 11 years.
Sweden’s Peter Hanson took the title 12 months ago for his maiden European Tour success, beating compatriot Peter Gustafsson on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off after both players had ended their regulation 72 holes on eight under par 280.
Gustafsson forced himself into contention with a superb final day 66, but such a score should not have been a surprise for if anyone knew the San Roque layout well it was the sun-hat wearing Swede, who won the Qualifying School there in 2004.
Hanson will attempt to follow in illustrious footsteps in the defence of his title, for the last man to capture this particular Spanish event in successive years was no less than the 1951 Open Champion Max Faulkner, who won at Puerta de Hierro in 1952 and 1953.
The Swede will face a tough task however, especially from a strong home contingent all eager to put right a statistic which has seen only one Spaniard win the title over the past ten years, that man being Sergio Garcia at El Cortijo Club in 2002.
Leading the home challenge this year will be the newly crowned BMW Asian Open champion Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano but he will be ably supported by Miguel Angel Jiménez, the highest ranked Spanish golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings in the field, and the 2003 BMW Championship winner at Wentworth Club, Ignacio Garrido.