Sergio Garcia (Getty Images)
Sergio Garcia hopes to use his local knowledge to good effect at this week’s Open de España at Parador de El Saler.
The 33 year old Spaniard grew up just down the road and comes into the event in good form having finished tied for eighth at the Masters Tournament last week.
That extended the World Number 13’s run of top-20 finishes to 13 in his last 15 events – including two victories – and he hopes to be able to maintain that form.
“I'm looking forward to keeping last week’s good momentum and have a shot at winning this event come Sunday,” said Garcia.
“For me playing in Spain, any tournament on any course is always exciting, but to be able to be back at the Spanish Open here at El Saler, next to Castellón, where I’m from, on probably one of the best golf courses in Europe in very high shape is an honour.
“I’ve played this course many times but not since the 2003 Seve Trophy, so I came a week before the Masters to have another look. The fairways were excellent, but the greens and bunkers were not as good as today. Now everything is perfect, so I must congratulate the green keeping team, the Federation and Paradores for a great job.
“El Saler is a great layout. It’s not long and the scores can go low in a calm day, but being close to the sea the wind usually picks up and some holes become really challenging. The key is to keep it straight off the tee which is not that easy under the wind, and if you don't, you can pay a high price.
“Without wind the scores will be low this week as the par fives are all easily reachable and there are some short par fours. If the wind blows we will need to drive the ball very well.
The greens are quite firm, which will add to the difficulty.”
Not only does the course hold some fond memories for Garcia, but he also revealed his national Open holds a special place in his heart.
“I have great memories of the Open de España,” he added. “My first professional event was the 1999 edition at El Prat. I also played it as an amateur, at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid where I met Seve for the first time and played a practice round with him. I was 16. But obviously, the best was my win in 2002.”