The Open de España, one of the most historic tournaments on The European Tour; Real Club Valderrama, one of the most iconic venues in the world of golf; and Sergio Garcia, one of Spain’s most celebrated golfing sons, will come together to stage the Real Club Valderrama Open de España, hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation, from April 14-17.
It will be the first time that the legendary Andalucian venue has staged Spain’s national Open, a tournament whose history stretches all the way back to its first playing in Madrid in 1912. Since 1972, it has also been a feature of every season on The European Tour and has seen some of golf’s greatest names get their hands on the trophy.
Amongst those are Major Champions Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Padraig Harrington, Bernhard Langer, Arnold Palmer and Charl Schwartzel alongside European Number Ones Robert Karlsson and Colin Montgomerie. Four Spaniards, aside from Ballesteros, have also claimed the title since 1972 – Antonio Garrido (1972), Alvaro Quiros (2010), Miguel Angel Jiménez (2014) and Garcia himself in 2002.
The €2 million tournament will be the first tournament of the 2016 season to be played on European soil and as well as the support of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation and Real Club Valderrama, the tournament also has the full backing of Garcia, the 11 time European Tour champion and five time Ryder Cup winner, who will assume the role of tournament host.
Garcia’s involvement – through his Foundation which was set up in 2002 – further emphasises the direct player involvement on this season’s European Tour.
Garcia joins Ernie Els, who hosted the BMW SA Open in January; Rory McIlroy, who will front the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation in May; Paul Lawrie who will stage the second Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play in August; and Luke Donald, who will take over from Ian Poulter as host of the British Masters supported by Sky Sports in October.
Valderrama is, without doubt, one of the best courses not just in Europe, but in the entire world.
Garcia said: “I am delighted to have this involvement with the Real Club Valderrama Open de España hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation. This is a whole new way of working together with The European Tour and I am very proud to be a part of it.
“Part of that pride stems from the fact that the tournament is going to be played at Valderrama which is, without doubt, one of the best courses not just in Europe, but in the entire world, and one which has a rich history within the game.
“I personally have great memories of the golf course, having won the Andalucía Valderrama Masters there in 2011 and I am sure that all the players who tee up in April will enjoy testing their game against the fantastic layout.”
Gonzaga Escauriaza, President of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, said: “It is an honour for us to celebrate the Open de España, our flagship event that has written so many pages in the history of European golf, at such a prestigious venue as Real Club Valderrama. Working together with The European Tour and Sergio García, a great ambassador of the game, has been a great pleasure and we are sure that we will produce a memorable Open”.
Nuno Pereira Machado, President of Real Club Valderrama said: “Real Club Valderrama has a great history of hosting fantastic tournaments, including The Ryder Cup. We have been working with The European Tour for some time to bring Valderrama back to The European Tour schedule and we are delighted to host Spain’s most historic professional tournament for the first time. I am certain the players will enjoy all the improvements we have made on the course over the last four years.
“I would like to thank Sergio Garcia for his involvement in the event through his Foundation. Not only is he one of the best players in the world, he is a great friend of our Club. We look forward to welcoming all the players and to a bright future together with The European Tour.”
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of The European Tour said: “I am delighted that we will see the Open de España, one of the most prestigious tournament titles on The European Tour, staged at Valderrama for the first time this year. In my many discussions with our players over the past six months, their desire to play on the best courses possible has consistently shone through, and in Valderrama we most certainly have one of the best in the world.
“On behalf of The European Tour, I want to thank Gonzaga Escauriaza and the Royal Spanish Golf Federation for assisting us in this venture, acknowledge the help and support of General Manager Javier Reviriego and everyone at Real Club Valderrama and, of course, pay tribute to Sergio García.
“Sergio is not only one of the greatest players Spain has ever produced, he has also been very helpful to me in my first six months in the role of CEO of The European Tour and his vision and commitment in seeing this tournament come to fruition is very much appreciated.”
Real Club Valderrama already shares a proud history with The European Tour, most notably through its hosting of The Ryder Cup in 1997, when golf’s greatest team event was staged in Continental Europe for the first time.
Fittingly, the late, great Seve Ballesteros captained Europe in his home country to a 14½-13½ victory over their American counterparts. Despite a final day fightback from Tom Kite’s team, which included debutant Tiger Woods, Europe retained the trophy with Colin Montgomerie sealing outright victory after halving the final singles match with Scott Hoch.
Two years later, Woods was victorious at Valderrama – claiming the inaugural edition of the WGC-American Express Championship, with Canada’s Mike Weir winning 12 months later in 2000 – while several members of Ballesteros’ triumphant team also enjoyed individual glory at Valderrama, which hosted the season-ending Volvo Masters on The European Tour from 1988 to 1996 and from 2002 to 2008.
Sir Nick Faldo won the inaugural Volvo Masters in 1988, and he was subsequently followed into the winners’ enclosure by the likes of Montgomerie in 1993 and Bernhard Langer in 1994, before the illustrious duo shared the title on the tournament’s return in 2002.
Other European Ryder Cup heroes to have tasted success in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama were Ronan Rafferty (1989), Sandy Lyle (1992), Ian Poulter (2004), Paul McGinley (2005) and Justin Rose (2007). Indeed, Rose’s victory, via a play-off with Simon Dyson and Søren Kjeldsen, ensured the Englishman would finish the season as Europe’s Number One.
More recently, the Andalucía Valderrama Masters has featured on the Race to Dubai and was won, in 2010, by Graeme McDowell, and by Garcia himself in 2011.
A full range of tickets for the tournament are available to buy now from http://tickets.europeantour.com including Any One Day Tickets from Thursday to Sunday which cost €15.00 per day if purchased before the week of the event and €20 per day if purchased during the tournament week.