Spaniard Alvaro Quiros is relishing the challenge of Real Club de Golf El Prat as he prepares to defend his Open de España title this week.
The 28 year old, who won the Dubai Desert Classic in February – his fifth European Tour title – and made the cut at last month’s Masters Tournament for the first time in three attempts after carding an impressive 65 in the first round, was full of praise for the course, which was designed by Greg Norman and opened in 2004.
“I like the course at Real Club de Golf and it's in great condition,” said Quiros. “Birdies will not come easily, but pars are relatively easy. If you keep making pars you can't go wrong, and if the wind starts blowing the course will become very challenging. I can reach the par fives in two, but they are not easy holes. On the other hand, the fairways narrow at 300 yards, which makes it difficult for long hitters like me.
“I played a Challenge Tour event here, over a different front nine. The course was completely new. Now it has matured and the rough has grown thicker. I think this course can suit me because it’s long, and I expect the greens will get firmer every day.
“You can’t play so-so on this course and I don’t feel comfortable with my driver, which is unusual. I might use my 3 or 5 wood.
“Favourites? Miguel Ángel Jiménez is always a favourite, and also Pablo Larrazábal, who knows the course by heart, or Matteo Manassero. If they can keep it straight they will be up there. Miguel Ángel is unbelievable. He doesn't even realise how good he is. His performance is impressive for a 47 year old.”
Quiros was not the only player impressed by the Open de España venue, as Oliver Wilson said on Twitter: “This week is shaping up to being one of the best tournaments in Europe. Cracking course in great condition and great facilities. And Mark Haastrup added: “Amazing course.”
After finishing 27th at Augusta National to add to his victory in Dubai and two other top ten finishes early in the year, Quiros said: “My season has been good so far. I’m happy that I made the cut at the Masters for the first time in three attempts and shot 65 the first day - ten strokes better than my previous best score. I left the tournament with a bittersweet feeling because I didn’t play as well on the other three days but this year's goal was the cut. The main thing is that now I know I can go low at Augusta, and I believe the 65 and making the cut have been better for my game than my win in Dubai.
“The difference between the first day and the rest was around the greens. If you don’t get up-and-downs, you don’t score at Augusta. Actually, you need a 60 degree lob wedge, and I normally use my 58 degree. I guess I should practise with my lob wedge more, but I need it only a few times a year, for the Masters and the US Open and The Open Championship, not even for the PGA Championship.
“My 65 at Augusta was like Guadiaro (Quiros’ local football team) scoring a goal against Barcelona in the first 15 minutes only to lose 6-1. I need to work on my short game, which is not up to standard for a player in the top 30 in the world ranking. You obviously have to play very well to win a Major, but you also need some luck.”