Race touches down on European soil at Sotogrande

3/31/2014 12:30:57 PM
La Reserva de Sotogrande (Andalucia Golf)  (EuropeanTour)
La Reserva de Sotogrande (Andalucia Golf) (EuropeanTour)
The 2014 Race to Dubai touches down on European soil for the first time this week when the prestigious La Reserva de Sotogrande Club de Golf plays host to the inaugural NH Collection Open.

The dual-ranking event – which counts towards both The European Tour’s Race to Dubai and the European Challenge Tour Rankings - will mark the first time The European Tour has visited this venue, which is nestled on the coast of southern Spain just a few hundred metres from the famous Club de Golf Valderrama.

A strong field, including 44 European Tour winners, will battle it out for the €600,000 prize fund and, while the money will be capped to €450,000 for the purposes of the Challenge Tour Rankings, it will also be a big week for players fighting it out for graduation from the second tier.

Alejandro Cañizares is likely to draw the biggest crowds in his home country as he searches for a second successive victory after his glorious five-shot triumph at the Trophée Hassan II.

The 31 year old from Malaga is attached to the nearby Club de Golf Valderrama, and he cannot wait to return for a homecoming of sorts.

“La Reserva de Sotogrande is a course I know well,” said the two-time European Tour winner. “In 2008, I played the Spanish Championship there and sometimes I practice there with my father. 

“It is a longish course, fairly generous off the tee with quite a few elevation changes and undulating greens. Some holes are long: the sixth, for instance, is a three-wood par three. Wind is a big factor, and it can really toughen up the course.

“The NH Collection Open is a very important event in this area. It may start modestly, but there is big room for growth, and hopefully more tournaments will return to Spain and boost Spanish golf.”

Santiago Luna, meanwhile, will make his 597th European Tour appearance at Sotogrande, taking him to seventh in the all-time list of most events played.

Other Spaniards in the field include Edoardo de la Riva, who finished 58th in last season’s Race to Dubai, as well as 2013 Qualifying School winner Carlos del Moral.

Thomas Levet is a man who knows how to win on Spanish soil - the Frenchman counts the 2008 Open de Andalucía and the 2009 Open de España among his six European Tour victories - and he is one of the many multiple winners in the field hoping to add to their trophy cabinet.

They also include Austria Bernd Wiesberger, Ireland’s Shane Lowry, Scotsman Richie Ramsay, English pair Robert Rock and Chris Wood, who are all looking to add to their CV with victory on Spain’s Andalucía coast.