Sergio Garcia hopes to bring his title-winning form from the KLM Open to this week’s Mutuactivos Open de España as he prepares to tee it up in his national Open for the first time since 2016.
It’s good to be a part of this event again – ’16 was the last time I played, at Valderrama. It’s a tournament I’ve won in the past, and I would love to renew that feeling here. It should be good fun here in Madrid.”
The 39-year-old is also making his first appearance since returning to the winner’s circle last month at the KLM Open, securing his 16th European Tour title and his fifth victory in a two-and-a-half year span.
“I did have a really nice week in Amsterdam a few weeks back. I’m excited to keep that momentum going. My game feels pretty good and hopefully we can have a great week.”
Winner of the Open de España in 2002, Garcia hopes to channel happy memories both from this tournament and playing in his home country, where he has won seven times in his 20-year professional career.
“The course has changed a little bit with a few new tees, but the essence of the course is still the same. Small greens, you have to drive the ball well. If you miss fairways there are a lot of tricky shots. It looks really nice, at the end of the day it comes down to playing well and we’ll see how it turns out.”
He is joined in the Spanish capital this week by Rafa Cabrera Bello, who is searching for a first professional win on home soil.
“I’m really looking forward to the Spanish Open this year, it’s always a pleasure to play in my home country. We feel the love and support from the crowds, promoters, organisers and everyone in the event. Of course we want to play our best and show off our best golf – sometimes that doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t matter. If they see us trying our hardest they appreciate that, it’s the mentality we come with. We want to win and will give it our best shot, but it’s not always in our hands.”
A three-time European Tour winner, most recently at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open in 2017, Cabrera Bello made his first appearance in this event as an amateur the same year that Garcia triumphed, finishing in a share of fourth place.
“I’ve played this tournament a lot and only had two top tens, it hasn’t been my best event. But that can change in a week. I feel more mature now and can deal with pressure or expectation much better these days. Hopefully this year, with the way my game is at the moment, I can put on a good performance.”
The Open de España returns to Club de Campo Villa de Madrid for the first time since 1996 when Padraig Harrington won his first European Tour event. It is also the same venue where the late, great Seve Ballesteros won his 50 th and final title on the European Tour the year prior.