The European Tour is in Spain for another week for the Andalucian Masters at Club de Golf Valderrama and last year’s winner Graeme McDowell has his sights set on retaining his title.
McDowell will have last year’s Race to Dubai winner Martin Kaymer to contend with as both former major winners will be paired alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez for the first round at Valderrama on Thursday.
Without a win on tour this season, McDowell will be looking at this tournament as a springboard to help him climb up the Race to Dubai rankings, where he currently lies in 25th place.
The Northern Irishman won the Andalucian Masters last year when he topped the leaderboard with a score of 3-under after strong winds meant only four players finished their 72 holes under par.
Two of those four players were Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin and Ireland’s Damien McGrane, who finished tied for 2nd on 1-under par alongside Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen.
Both Maybin and McGrane will be looking to the heights they achieved this time last year at Valderrama and the possibility of topping the leaderboard this time after last week’s display at the Castello Masters.
McGrane finished on 4-under par while Maybin had a weekend to forget when he missed the cut and will be looking to improve his form in Sotogrande this week.
Shane Lowry will also be looking to put last week’s performance in Valencia behind him, when a nightmare first round score of 7-over left him playing catch-up; his second round score of 2-over wasn’t good enough to recover and the Offaly man subsequently missed the cut.
Peter Lawrie has been in decent form on the west coast of Europe having tied for 11th at the Portugal Masters, he followed that up with a top-30 finish at the Castello Masters, where he tied for 27th in Valencia.
Paul McGinley is back in action following a disappointing display in Portugal just under two weeks ago when the Dublin man failed to make the cut for the weekend play.
His form has been very hit-and-miss and despite his highest tour finish of the year at the KLM Open in the Netherlands where he finished 6th, McGinley has only made the cut at two of his last five tournaments.
Sergio Garcia is straight back into the mix after his record-breaking win in Valencia over the weekend and the Spaniard will be hoping to make it back-to-back titles in his home country.
Both Francesco and Eduardo Molinari are included in the field for the Andalucian Masters as well as the likes of Thomas Bjorn, Peter Hanson, Justin Rose and Matteo Manassero.