Everything you need to know from day one at Real Club Valderrama.
Julien maintained momentum, Rafa carded a 65 (sort of), Nicolai's luck was in and there was no keeping Jon down on day one of the 2021 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters.
Here is everything you need to know from Thursday in Sotogrande.
Guerrier gallops ahead
Seven days ago, Julien Guerrier was 132nd in the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex and needing a good finish to the season to keep his playing privileges. After a third place at the Acciona Open de España presented by Madrid, he now has his card all but secured and can focus on claiming a first European Tour win. An opening 67 in windy conditions handed him a one shot lead after day one. "I think I’m more relaxed," he said. "I’m playing to shoot a low score, not save my card, that’s the main thing. We work every day, improve our game and it’s working at the end of the year."
Rafa respects Valderrama
"You just know it's a different type of tournament where three pars in a row equals one birdie," said Rafa Cabrera Bello. "That's what you have in mind and that's how I try to deal with this course and other courses that are as tough as this one." With four birdies, one bogey and three runs of three pars, the Spaniard carded a 65 by his own metric. The scorers unfortunately have their own rules and his 68 left him a shot behind Guerrier, but anybody who has played Valderrama will know exactly what last week's winner was getting at. This place is brutal.
How's your luck?
Water all day, right? Wrong. We're not sure what Nicolai Højgaard is doing, but he needs to keep doing it.
All class from Rahm
Jon Rahm fired a 78 on day one, matching his highest ever round on the European Tour. The World Number One could have been forgiven for heading straight to the range or his hotel but he stuck around to sign for the fans. Bravo Jon.
Players pay respects to Renton Laidlaw
The European Tour and the world of golf lost a great friend this week with the passing of journalist and broadcaster Renton Laidlaw. Renton commentated on some of the game's most famous moments and will be sadly missed by all. As a mark of respect, the players wore black ribbons on Thursday.