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Garcia stays in control heading into Monday at Valderrama

Round three update

Sergio Garcia remains on course for a third title at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation, but will now have to wait until Monday to complete his third and final round after play was suspended due to thunderstorms and heavy rain.

The defending champion – who also won the event in 2011 – is three strokes clear of nearest challenger Lee Westwood at Real Club Valderrama and will have 11 holes remaining when play restarts at 9.10 am.

Home favourite Garcia came into the third round at 10 under par and four shots clear, and after a number of weather delays over the first three days meant that the decision had been taken to reduce the event to 54 holes.

Following another one hour delay on Sunday morning, the 2017 Masters Tournament winner extended his lead to five strokes when he followed up three opening pars with his first birdie of the day at the fourth, courtesy of a brilliant 20-foot putt.

But after Garcia missed his close-range par putt at the fifth, 23-time European Tour winner Westwood followed up three straight birdies from the second with another gain at the eighth to jump to seven under par and reduce the lead to three shots, before play was suspended at 1.49 pm.

Seven-time European Tour winner Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño began the week in 125th place in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, and produced opening rounds of 70 and 68 to give himself a good chance of retaining his European Tour card. He is currently in a share of third place at six under par alongside Ireland’s Shane Lowry.

Finland’s Mikko Korhonen is one shot further back on five under par, with six players then at four under par. That group includes Ireland’s Gavin Moynihan, who got to six under par for the day through 15 holes before play was suspended, with a round that included an eagle, five birdies and just one dropped shot.

Scot Marc Warren and Englishman Matthew Nixon, who both began the week outside the top 116 mark required to retain their playing privileges, are also amongst the group on four under par, while another Scotsman in David Drysdale and Australian Jason Norris are one shot further back at three under par.

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Andalusia ─ a classic stop on the European Tour

  • 59 international events held in Andalusian golf courses since 1966.
  • Around half a million golf tourists visit Andalusia every year.

The staging of the Andalucía Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio García Foundation, from October 19-22, will mark the 59th international golf tournament played in Andalusia, most of them at the Real Club Valderrama. The southern Spanish region has thus become a classic stop on the European Tour, having held more events than any other in continental Europe.

Since 1966, Andalusian courses have hosted 59 elite professional tournaments, including 21 Volvo Masters, 11 Open de Andalucía, 11 Open de España, three Volvo World Match Play Championships, three editions of the Andalucía Valderrama Masters, three World Cups, two World Golf Championships and the 1997 Ryder Cup.

Many of the world’s best – Major winners, Ryder Cup heroes – have competed in Andalusia: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Phil Mickelson, Roberto de Vicenzo, Vijay Singh, Graeme McDowell, José María Olazábal, Bernhard Langer, Sir Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Sergio García, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Sandy Lyle, Darren Clarke, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Ernie Els or Davis Love III.

The majority and most prominent of these events have been hosted by the Real Club Valderrama. The flagship of Andalusian golf will gather the fans once again next month for the third edition of the Andalucía Valderrama Masters, where Sergio García and Jon Rahm have already confirmed their attendance. 

Andalusia is a well-established golf destination and the leading Spanish region in golf facilities, boasting 114 courses. In fact, the Costa del Sol has the largest concentration of golf facilities in continental Europe. A flourishing industry has developed around golf in order to welcome the increasing number of visitors attracted to this area. 480,000 arrivals of golf tourists were recorded in southern Spain in 2015.

According to data provided by the Regional Government of Andalusia, the golf industry generates an estimated yearly income of 730 million euro for this region. The importance of this market is highlighted by the fact that golf tourists spend on average 129.68 euro per day, while general tourists spend 62.84. In addition, golfers tend to stay longer – their average length of stay is 11.4 days, as opposed to 8.7 for general tourists.

In words of Francisco Javier Fernández, Regional Minister for Tourism and Sports, “Andalusia is an international benchmark for tourism, but also for sports and particularly for golf. Our region is the best choice in Europe for playing golf all year round. Because of its climate, its numerous courses and its rich complementary offer, Andalusia is a privileged venue for top-class sports events.”

Tickets for the Andalucía Valderrama Masters are available at:




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Rham excited by home debut at Valderrama

“I look forward to playing in front of the Spanish fans.”

“Valderrama is one of the best layouts I have ever played”.

“What is happening this season is past my wildest dreams”.

Jon Rham will make his first professional appearance on Spanish soil at the third edition of the Andalucía Valderrama Masters, hosted by the Sergio García Foundation and sponsored by the Autonomous Government of Andalusia, from October 19-22. Rham currently ranks 5th in the OWGR and in the FedEx Cup, and 3rd in the Race to Dubai in his impressive rookie season. He won the Farmers Insurance Open, his maiden PGA Tour title, in January. In July he earned his first European Tour victory by winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open by six strokes.

The Spanish rising talent (born in Barrika, Vizcaya 10/11/1994) is relishing his home debut. “I really look forward to playing in front of the Spanish fans. Right after the Irish Open I went to Valderrama to practice for October. I felt a big sense of anticipation as I teed up on the first hole. I wish to encourage everyone to come and support us and watch some great golf. If the public enjoys it, we will enjoy it.

“My first round at Valderrama was five years ago when I played the Sotogrande Cup with the Spanish national team. It was a different experience because my game has changed a lot since then. I remember playing in a gale.

“Valderrama is one of the best layouts I have ever played. It is visually attractive and wonderfully maintained. Golf courses don’t need to measure 10,000 yards to be challenging. I find Valderrama very exciting and a good test. You really have to think your way through and play all kinds of shots. Mistakes can be costly, so it keeps you on your toes.”

Jon was two when Valderrama staged the Ryder Cup; his father Edorta recalls how the 1997 showdown introduced golf to his family: “We are a group of friends from Bilbao who enjoy a lot of sports together, particularly skiing. Two of our gang were invited to the ’97 Ryder Cup. They had no idea of golf, but they returned home full of enthusiasm. Two years later, Eduardo Celles opened his golf academy in Bilbao and we all started taking lessons. My wife Ángela, and our sons Jon and Eriz took up golf in 2003.” 

The family became so addicted to golf that they took a week’s vacation every year to go to Valderrama for the Volvo Masters. Jon has vivid childhood memories of those tournaments where the trophies he collected on the course were the autographs of his idols.

“I remember my first visit with my father during the 2007 Volvo Masters. The first player we saw was Thomas Björn on the 7th. Then we went to the first to watch Poulter and Sergio tee off. We followed Poulter who played a great shot on the first. I went ahead of my dad and was lucky enough to see Justin Rose ace the 3rd, but my dad didn’t see it. We followed Poulter along the 4th and we waited for Colin Montgomerie on the 5th. The next thing I remember is the 17th, a great hole. You need a perfect drive to a tight fairway and then you are facing a daunting second – it reminds me slightly of the 15th at Augusta.

“On the 18 green I got my shirt signed by Nick Dougherty, Paul Casey and Miguel Ángel, but I don’t think he remembers. Harrington had won the Open Championship that year and I asked him for his cap but he couldn’t give it to me. I didn’t bring home any balls, hats nor gloves, only my shirt with six signatures on it. We went from there to the putting green and to the driving range to see some more golf.”

Ten years after collecting those autographs, Jon returns to Valderrama as one of the world’s top players. “In October I will be proud to play my first professional event in Spain. I look forward to playing the Andalucía Valderrama Masters in front of my home crowd and will do my best to give a good show.

“The boy that went to Valderrama in 2007 is still there, with the same dreams and the same ambition. I am extremely fortunate that my dreams are coming true, but this year feels more like a Steven Spielberg film – winning at Torrey Pines and again in Ireland the way I did doesn’t even happen in the wildest dreams.”

Edorta Rham shares the same feeling. “I never imagined that Jon would get so far so fast. You dream that your son will make it, but being realistic, we insisted that he should complete his studies. I only started to believe that the dream could come true in 2015, when he finished 5th at the Phoenix Open playing under an invite as the leading world amateur.

“All our family and friends will go to the Andalucía Valderrama Masters – we are looking forward to a great week.”

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