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Thursday, 16 August 2018
Tiger Woods in action in 1999  (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods in action in 1999 (Getty Images)

The famous Real Club Valderrama has hosted 21 European Tour events over the years – not including the Ryder Cup and this year will once again welcome the Andalucía Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio García Foundation on October 18-21, 2018 under the sponsorship of the Council of Tourism and Sport of the Junta de Andalucía.

It is one of the most exciting layouts in continental Europe, with tight fairways, small firm greens and relentless wind  that present a stiff challenge up to the last shot, however only six of those 21 events have gone to extra holes.

We take a look back at those exciting play-off battles.

Scottish duel

Sandy Lyle and Colin Montgomerie starred in the first of these showdowns at the 1992 Volvo Masters. Lyle led by four entering the final round, but Montgomerie worked his way up with a superb round of 69.

The lead was shared for most of the day until Lyle three-putted for bogey on the 14th hole. He came back with a birdie on the 15the  and saved a miraculous par on the 17th after a shanked 9-iron hit a tree out of bounds and bounced back into light rough.

They two Scots ended the round tied on 287 (+3). On the first play-off hole, Lyle hit a perfect tee shot. Montgomerie tried to fade his in a left-to-right wind but hit a tree 60 yards out and ended his challenge. 

This was the 18th and last of Lyle’s European Tour victories. As for Montgomerie, he came back by winning the following edition of the Volvo Masters in 1993, the year he triggered his incredible feat of topping the European Tour Order of Merit for seven seasons in a row.

Tiger and Jiménez face-to-face

One of the most memorable play-offs at Valderrama pitched local hero Miguel Ángel Jiménez against a dominant Tiger Woods at the 1999 WGC-American Express Championship.

Woods was three strokes ahead of Jiménez and looked to be cruising towards his eighth win of the season, but disaster awaited him in the final stretch.

After bogeying the 16th hole, a triple bogey eight on the next put Jiménez one ahead as he stood on the 18th tee, supported by a thrilled home crowd.

The Spanish dreams were shattered as Miguel failed to par 18 and the then World Number One ensured victory with a perfect birdie on the first extra hole.

A handshake at twilight

At the 2002 Volvo Masters Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie agreed to share the title as night fell in Valderrama. Langer and Montgomerie had tied on 281 (-3) after signing for scores of 67 and 70.

The play-off was delayed because Montgomerie was whisked from the recording area at the 18th green to the television compound to view a video tape of an incident at the 10th hole. There had been a possibility that Montgomerie had addressed a moving ball before tapping in, which could have resulted in a two-stroke penalty.

Once it was determined that there had been no rules infraction, both players headed for the 18th tee in the gathering gloom. After halving two extra holes, both contenders accepted the offer by Ken Schofield, The European Tour’s Executive Director, to share the spoils and shook hands in pitch darkness.

The decision to share the trophy was not unprecedented, and coincidentally the last occasion a draw was declared also involved Langer. He and Seve Ballesteros had completed four holes of a play-off for the 1986 Trophée Lancôme when darkness brought proceedings to a close in Paris. 

The longest duel in Valderrama history

The following year, the 2003 Volvo Masters ended in a tie between Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson and Spain’s Carlos Rodiles. It was a 28-hole Sunday for the leaders, as they had to complete six holes of the weather-delayed third round and needed four extra holes to determine the winner.

The final stretch was as tense as could be. Rodiles bogeyed 16 to trail by one, but 17 proved to be key once again as the Spaniard birdied while Jacobson spun his third into the water for a double bogey.

The local favourite held a two-stroke lead going into the final hole, which at some courses may be a comfortable lead, but not at Valderrama.

Rodiles tugged his tee shot and had to settle for a bogey while Jacobson conjured up a towering 9-iron from 151 yards to two and a half feet for the birdie that forced the play-off.

Rodiles set up winning chances on the first three extra holes, but the putts refused to drop. Memories of the 2002 stalemate were fast resurfacing when the players returned to the 18th for the sixth time of the day – the first being when they completed their delayed third rounds in the morning.

When Rodiles mis-hit his tee shot and could only chip sideways from the trees, Jacobson took his chance with an immaculate 8-iron to six feet and the contest was over.

Three in a row

In 2004 Valderrama lived up to its reputation of ‘Valde-drama’ as for the third successive year the Volvo Masters Andalucía provided the sudden-death excitement of a play-off.

Ryder Cup teammates Ian Poulter and Sergio García had carded matching rounds of 70 to finish regulation play at seven under par.  

García had missed a golden chance to seal the title when he launched an eight iron approach from 175 yards to five feet at the 72nd hole, but failed to convert. Poulter joined the Spaniard in the play-off as he missed a birdie try of his own on the last. 

Back to the 18th, both players hit poor drives, but Poulter ended up in much better shape. García could not get out of the rough while his opponent knocked down a 7-iron to the apron and saved par to claim the title.

Seven years later Sergio delighted the home crowds by winning the2011 Andalucía Valderrama Masters, and again in 2017. This year he will return to one of his favourite courses as defending champion and tournament host.

Rose prevails in the end

The last play-off at Valderrama was a three-way fight for the 2007 Volvo Masters title between Englishmen Justin Rose and Simon Dyson and Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen.

Rose had started the day four shots ahead of the field and maintained his lead until a double bogey on 11 started a worrying run of four dropped shots in five holes. He looked like losing the Order of Merit as well as the tournament, but managed to hang on with a superb two-putt birdie on 17 that earned him a spot in the play-off.

Reaching the play-off ensured him the Order of Merit, but there would have been disappointment if he had lost the tournament. He was determined to win, and did just that by birdieing the second extra hole from 15 feet to clinch the season-ending title.

Tickets for the 2018 Andalucía Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio García Foundation are available HERE

Children aged under 14 are admitted to the event free of charge when accompanied by a ticket holding adult. 

 

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