Sergio Garcia relishing Valderrama return for Andalucia Masters
By Sky Sports Golf
Last Updated: 27/06/19 6:49am
Sergio Garcia is expecting tougher conditions than he did 12 months ago as he bids to defend his title once again at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters.
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Garcia arrives as a three-time champion at Real Club Valderrama, following victories in 2011 and 2017 with a four-shot win in a weather-delayed finish last year.
The former Masters champion has posted six other top-10s at the venue, where his foundation hosts the event, including three runner-up finishes at the Volvo Masters.
Garcia's victory last year came via a Monday finish after the event was reduced to 54 holes due to multiple weather delays, with the 39-year-old relishing the chance to play in drier, warmer conditions this time around.
"Coming back to Spain is always special but to come back to Valderrama, my favourite golf course where I have done so well, it's really something else," Garcia said.
"It looks like this year is going to be totally different [compared to last year] so we're excited to see how the course is going to play with good weather.
"It looks amazing, it's getting quite firm so it's going to be very challenging. The course is playing totally different than it has the past few years."
Garcia has been grouped alongside Matt Fitzpatrick and Marcus Kinhult for the first two rounds, while Jon Rahm - the highest-ranked player in the field - is hoping to shrug off a pre-tournament cold and impress on home soil.
"It's nothing I haven't played with before," Rahm said. "It's not too bad, nothing that should stop me from playing good. I'll never make that excuse.
"When you come to this golf course and it's in this shape and how good it is and you get this weather, it's beautiful. It's a hard week to beat and I'm really looking forward to playing in my home country."
The event is part of the Open Qualifying Series and three players who finish in the top 10 and ties, who are not already exempt, will earn places in The 148th Open.
Watch the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 11am on Sky Sports Golf.