Garcia ready for another special week in Valderrama
October 17, 2018
Defending champion Sergio Garcia is looking ahead to another special week in a place that he loves, as he returns to Real Club Valderrama just three weeks after becoming Europe's all-time Ryder Cup points scorer.
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“It's always great to come to Valderrama, and hopefully I can keep up the good work of the last six weeks so I can give myself a chance to defend the title."
“I love the way this course plays, I love how tough it is even though it's not a long golf course. It's just testing you and every part of your game, which is always good fun. The course condition is spectacular and the greens are rolling incredibly fast and true. Valderrama should be really proud."
He is aiming for a third Andalucia Valderrama Masters title, after also winning here in 2011, but it is a week that is about more than just golf for the 2017 Masters Tournament champion, as the event is hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation for the second successive year.
There's a distinct Ryder Cup feel at Real Club Valderrama as Garcia is joined in the field by Thomas Bjørn, the man who led Europe to a 17.5-10.5 win over the United States in the week that the Spaniard overtook Sir Nick Faldo at the top of the points list.
Bjørn's own Ryder Cup journey comes full circle this week as he returns to the venue where he made his debut in 1997 as part of the team – captained by the late, great Seve Ballesteros – which won the first of the biennial events to be held in continental Europe.
“It's always nice to come back here," said Bjørn. " It was such a special week that one, in the sense of Seve and the way the week unfolded."
“If I had to choose a moment in the 1997 Ryder Cup, for me it was moment when I walked into that team room for the first time and I saw who was actually in that room. When you realize that you are playing in a team with Faldo and Monty, Langer and Woosie, Ollie and then Seve as a Captain, you realise that your career is going in a direction pretty fast where you are going to places you never thought you'd be, and that moment is quite big for any young player."
“The practice I've done over the last six months doesn't really allow me to look at this tournament in a competitive way. I wanted to be here for Sergio, I wanted to be here for his Foundation and for all the things he's done for golf and for me. It was a pretty unique situation for Sergio to become the all-time scorer and that's something pretty cool to be part of.”
The theme continues with three of the Dane's Vice-Captains - Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson and Lee Westwood – all in the field, alongside 2012 winning Captain José María Olazábal. Two of the Spaniard's ‘Miracle of Medinah' stars, Nicolas Colsaerts and Peter Hanson, are also joined by Stephen Gallacher and Edoardo Molinari, who both featured in winning sides in 2014 and 2010 respectively.
Valderrama will also be the battleground for the players who are seeking to maintain their playing privileges for the 2019 season, with players within the top 116 players at the end of this week (taking into account the six Affiliate Members currently inside the top 110) retaining their European Tour cards. Players who are on the bubble going into the week include four-time European Tour winners David Horsey of England and Italian Matteo Manassero, and Scottish pair Richie Ramsay and Marc Warren, who each have three European Tour titles.