Venue: Real Club Valderrama, Sotogrande, Spain
Date: October 18-21, 2018
Course stats: Par 71, 6,991 yards
Purse: €2 million (£1.76m)
Defending champion: Sergio Garcia (-12)
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Friday: Sky Sports Golf – from 11am
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf – from 1pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf – from 12.30pm
Andalucia Masters preview
The European Tour heads to Spain for this week’s Andalucia Valderrama Masters with the Race to Dubai firmly on the majority of the players’ minds.
The notorious course in Sotogrande is often referred to as the European Tour’s spiritual home given its links with Seve Ballesteros and the Ryder Cup, and this is a layout that has stood the test of time.
Scoring around here has always been brutal. Fairways are like bowling alleys and the greens are minuscule. Simply put, Valderrama has always favoured an accurate player, and as a result we have seen Sergio Garcia – the ball striking extraordinaire – dominate at this venue. Indeed, the Spaniard has won here twice, but more impressively he has only finished outside of the top-10 once in 13 attempts. It’s a remarkable record, so it’s of no surprise to see the Ryder Cup star as the heavy favourite to land his 15th European Tour title.
This is a fairly poor field for a European Tour event. It falls at an awkward time on the schedule, right at the end of a good stretch of events with a WGC next week, and for most, this is an easy pass. Why would you want to play a course that will likely beat you up and knock your confidence before we head into the final stretch of the Race to Dubai? Instead, this is a vital event for the players that find themselves battling to keep their tour cards, or even the players that are trying to advance to the Turkish Airlines Open – the lucrative Rolex Series event that kicks off the three-event season finale.
Andalucia Valderrama Masters betting tips
Garcia’s record is hugely impressive and he needs to be respected off the back of a strong Ryder Cup showing, but I’m not going to touch him at the short prices.
Instead, I really like the look of Marcus Kinhult (40/1, 6 places), with the Swede expected to breakthrough at this level sooner rather than later.
The classy youngster finished 42nd on his debut here two years ago, with only a second round 78 the blemish. History has told us that course debutants have often found it difficult here, so that was an entirely respectable effort on his first glance.
Recent excellent performances at the Open de France and BMW PGA Championship underline that Kinhult is at his best on tougher tracks where par is a good score, and given that he saw a noticeable improvement in driving accuracy last week at the British Masters, the 22-year-old has every chance of beating his only effort here in 2016.
Last year we saw the likes of Daniel Brooks and Ashley Chesters pull performances out of the bag when they needed it most to cling onto their tour privileges, so who fits that bill this week?
Related: CJ Cup betting tips and preview
Mikko Korhonen (50/1, 7 places) is a steady, accurate player who has broken through on the European Tour this year and has a chance of notching another this week on a venue that will suit.
I had my doubts about the Finn, but his performance at the Shot Clock Masters earlier this year was very convincing – when faced with the lead on Sunday, he maintained his level and kept on pushing forward when it would’ve been perfectly understandable to have seen him go backwards due to the pressurised circumstances.
I’m happy to ignore his missed cut here last year on what was his debut at Valderrama. Even so, 73-77 wasn’t that bad, especially given that he was facing the pressures of keeping his tour card. At 49th in the Race to Dubai standings, he has no such problems this time around.
Those are our tipster’s top tips for the Andalucia Valderrama Masters – but where does he think you can really profit? Find out his long shots on the next page…