Two more excellent looking fields are lined up for the PGA and European Tour events this week, as the golfing year nears its end.
The European Tour is in Spain for the Andalucia Masters, which is being hosted by home favourite Sergio Garcia, whilst the PGA remain in Asia with the CJ Cup in South Korea.
The famed Real Club Valderrama, which hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup, is hosting the European Tour and a number of big names turning up for Garcia – but nobody is looking forward to the week more than him.
“This is my favourite golf course ever and it’s the kind of golf course that even though it’s not long, it challenges you,” he said.
“It’s tight and it’s always asking you to hit good shots, all kinds of shots.
“They are small greens so your iron play has to be spot on and if you miss the greens it’s tricky. It’s just a great, solid golf course.
“The pressure is still the same this week as any week, trying to do well and, yes, maybe trying to perform in front of my home crowds. It’s as simple as that.”
— Top 100 Golf Courses (@top100golf) October 18, 2017
Garcia became the first Spaniard to win a stroke play event at Real Club Valderrama when he triumphed in Andalucia Masters in 2011 – but the event has not taken place since.
Garcia is the firm favourite to take the win but he will have to share some of the home support with the much fancied Jon Rahm – who is playing his first ever professional tournament on Spanish soil, having begun his career playing in America on the PGA Tour.
“This venue is very important for Spanish golf,” said the world number five.
“In the past it did a great job putting Spanish golf on the map, they made it an iconic golf course. Then the Ryder Cup came along and made a huge impact in Spain — that’s the reason why I’m playing golf.”
Not all the world’s top Spaniards will be in Valderrama – as Rafa Cabrera Bello is one of the top Europeans looking to land the CJ Cup in Korea – although it is top-ten ranked duo Justin Thomas and Jason Day who are much fancied to take the win.
“Anytime you get the opportunity to go to a place where you’ve never been before, playing against a tremendous field, it’s a great opportunity,” said FedEx Cup champion Thomas.
“To go to South Korea for the first time and to play in a place at Jeju Island. It’s one of the coolest part of being a golfer, as you’ll never go to new places if you didn’t play golf.”
Day added: “I have always enjoyed traveling around the world to play in front of different golf fans and enjoying what the local culture has to offer, which is one of the perks of being a professional golfer.
“I have heard Jeju Island is a breathtaking tourist destination and I intend to make time to enjoy what the place has to offer. Ultimately, my goal will be head over to South Korea and try to win the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges.”
The CJ Cup is the second tournament in three weeks being played in Asian, leading up to next week’s World Golf Championship finale in China.
After last week’s event on Malayisa, the field make the trip to South Korea to play at Nine Bridges, one of the finest courses in Asia.
This is the inaugural staging of this tournament, and it is little surprise that such an attractive field has been assembled with a whopping $9million prize on offer.
this course is immaculate.
it's going to be a fun weekend. pic.twitter.com/ml5j0e2DF8
— Matthew Wiley (@wiley77) October 16, 2017
The pro’s point of view…
Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.
An interesting week ahead and it is great to see the European Tour heading back to Valerrama, and I think we could see some home success.
Garcia and Rahm are clearly grabbing the headlines early on, but I quite fancy Alejandro Canizares to deliver.
It is nice to see the PGA in Asia, but think we might see some Australian success and I think the trio of Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Adam Scott will go very well indeed.
The Bookie says…
We caught up with Betfair’s Joe Dyer to get their views on this week’s action
The European Tour is back at one its iconic venues this week while the PGA Tour takes a step into the future staging its first tournament ever played in South Korea.
Valderrama has hosted a Ryder Cup and a World Golf Championship while also being the scene of the season-ending Volvo Masters between 1988 and 1996. The list of winners on the course is therefore pretty impressive and, while this week’s field isn’t the strongest, there is world-class talent at the top of the betting in the form of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia.
The Spanish pair are single figure odds again – Garcia 9-2, Rahm 5-1 – but as a former winner Sergio would be the selection. Those looking for a longer price might want to consider another Spaniard in Alejandro Canizares who brings both course and current form and can be backed at 50/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook which is paying six places this week.
The CJ Cup is played at the Nine Bridges on Jeju Island. There is no PGA Tour course form to go on, but accuracy is said to be key. Justin Thomas once again heads the betting at 15/2, but again it may pay to look further down the field. Tony Finau is in red-hot form with top 10s in his last three tournament and can be backed at 22/1 to beat the field home this week.
And might a punt on Danny Lee pay? The South Korean-born New Zealander is a serious talent and has plenty of experience of golfing in south east Asia. He is 60/1 in this 78-runner field.