The Race to Dubai makes its way to Real Club Valderrama for the 2021 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters. Read on below to find out who our experts have picked to do well at one of the toughest tracks on the schedule.
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Our expert picks will be brought to you every week by Sky Sports Presenter Kit Alexander and former Ladies European Tour player, coach and presenter Sophie Walker. The duo also co-host their own weekly Fantasy Golf Youtube Channel.
The Ryder Cupper has three top-20s in his last four starts, including a T12 last week and a runner-up finish in the Omega European Masters. He double bogeyed the last in Switzerland, but Crans-sur-Sierre is a similarly strategic layout to Valderrama. He finished T31 here last year and his stats suit the course well – 8th in greens in regulation, 29th in driving accuracy and 17th in ‘strokes gained - around the green’.
The 48-year-old is in the form of his life and now up to 78 in the world rankings courtesy of a win and seven top-10s in his last 15 events. He backed up a T4 at the Dunhill Links with a T9 in Madrid last week. He’s 2nd in bogey avoidance and inside the top 20 in driving accuracy, greens in regulation, scrambling and putts per GIR, so you can expect him to keep mistakes off his card and harness his confidence to roll in some birdies.
The four-time European Tour winner is quietly putting a good season together and getting back towards his best form. His last four tournaments have yielded a couple of T9s and a T18, to go with another six top-20s earlier this season. He’s known as a power player but also has the accuracy required this week – he’s 22nd in driving accuracy, 23rd in greens in regulation, 18th in ‘strokes gained - around the green’ and his putting is improving. He will win again soon.
The world number one will be disappointed with his T17th in Madrid last week. Valderrama is a special venue for the Rahm family, it is where his father watched the 1997 Ryder Cup. He was inspired to take up the game and introduce it to Jon.
Rahm was Europe’s best player in the Ryder Cup and leads most strokes gained stats on the PGA Tour which lead him to his first major win at the US Open. The Spaniard will once again be the favourite this week and many managers captain.
Beef won his only European Tour title around Valderama and will have fond memories here. You need to be good at driving the ball to compete, Johnston is 13th in driving accuracy. The winning score isn’t normally high so bogey avoidance is important, he makes 2 a round which ranks him 3rd on tour. The Englishman is 75th on the R2D but his form is improving with a solid week last week and a top ten at the BMW PGA (another tree lines golf course).
I picked the Austrian a lot in the middle of the year due to his consistency. Which is exactly what you need this week in Sotogrande. Schwab is 10th in stroke average and bogey avoidance. He gains on the field dramatically in everything except putting. But if he has a half decent week with the putter he will do well. Mattias has had 5 top 10’s and only two missed cuts this season.