The European Tour arrives at Real Club Valderrama for the 2021 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters. Here are your five things to know
The Estrella Damn N.A. Andalucía Masters is the second of three consecutive events to take place in Spain this October, and follows on from Rafa Cabrera Bello’s victory in front of home fans at the Open de España.
This week, American John Catlin will attempt to defend the title he captured in Valderrama last season, before the Mallorca Golf Open rounds of the trio events for the European Tour by returning to Golf Santa Ponsa for the first time this century.
At a venue known for being a tough test, John Catlin claimed his maiden European Tour title with a wire to wire victory last season after seeing off former World Number One Martin Kaymer in a thrilling final round battle that went down to the very last hole.
The American began the day with a two stroke advantage but saw the lead change hands throughout the afternoon before a final-hole mistake from Kaymer left Catlin able to make par at the last to win by one.
He went on to win again two weeks later in Ireland, and earlier this year captured his third title in Austria. Now, Catlin returns to Real Club Valderrama in the hope of regaining some of that winning form.
Rahm aiming to be the best
Rahm has often spoken about how that event sparked his family's passion for golf and he would love to lift the trophy at what is arguably continental Europe's most famous golf course.
He finished second at this event in 2019 but is still three over for his two career appearances and knows he will have to be at his very best if he is to win an eighth European Tour title.
"It's just a historic venue for Spanish players," he said. "I've mentioned numerous times how my family started playing golf because of the Ryder Cup here in 1997.
"Sergio (Garcia) has done a great job out here and many other Spanish players have played great and been able to win here as well. It would be an honour to join my name to the list."
A rich history of Tour events
Real Club Valderrama is hosting the seventh edition of the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Masters this week, but the venue boasts a deep history as the only Spanish course to play host to four different official European Tour events.
In 1998 it became home to the Volvo Masters (1988-1996 and 2002-2008), and Nick Faldo’s victory over home favourite Seve Ballesteros marked the first of many memorable moments at the Sotogrande course. Valderrama has since hosted the WGC-Cadillac Championship (1999-2000), the Open de España (2016) and this event from 2010-2011 and 2017 to the present day.
Ryder Cup history
In 1997 Valderrama made history by becoming the first course in Continental Europe to host The Ryder Cup, and began a streak of home victories for the European side that is yet to be broken.
During that Ryder Cup the late, great Seve Ballesteros captained his team to a 14.5 to 13.5 points victory, which was also during a year that both Thomas Bjorn and Lee Westwood made their debuts. Bjorn returns this year, and is joined by several Ryder Cup stars – including recently returned Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick and Bernd Wiesberger – who were part of the team who competed at Whistling Straits last month.