Club de Golf Valderrama, Sotogrande, Spain. Designer: Trent Jones Snr, 1985, with updates by Kyle Phillips; Course type: Classic, Technique; Par: 71; Length: 7,028 meters; Fairways: Bermuda Tifway; Rough: Bermuda/rye; Greens: bent grass (G2).
Course Overview. Located just a few kilometers from the Mediterranean coast, the course is in many ways a typical Trent Jones test, with narrow, undulating fairways leading to tiny, sloping and relatively fast G2 Bentgrass greens.
With a shadow of over 7,000 yards, the course isn’t long by today’s standards, but it’s still a tough test across all departments that can get downright nasty in inclement weather.
Changes to the course ahead of the 2016 Spanish Open held here generally affected the bunkers and tees, also the cork trees lining the fairways were trimmed back a bit but that didn’t make the course play any easier as Andrew Johnston ran out the winner at +1 over the 4 days. More work has been done on and around the front nine’s putting surfaces since Beef’s win, but the challenge here is basically the same and it’s a tough test from start to finish.
The layout includes 3 par 5s in a par 71 35-36 format, with the back 9 and particularly the final section having a series of hard holes and the par 5 17 offering little recreation despite its attractiveness at 536 yards long.
Tournament Statistics. We’ve released some key stats for this week’s event that will help give you an idea of players who have traditionally played well at Valderrama: Current shape | course form | Leader of the first round | Combined Statistics.
prediction model. Our published prediction model is available here. As always, you can create your own model using the available variables.
course winner. 2021: Matt Fitzpatrick, 14/1; 2020: John Catlin, 125/1; 2019: Christiaan Bezuidenhout, 80/1; 2018: Sergio Garcia, 9/2; 2017: Sergio Garcia, 5/1; 2016: Andrew Johnston, 100/1 (Spanish Open).
weather forecast. The latest weather forecast for the region is here. It is expected to be mostly sunny over the 4 days of the tournament this year at Valderrama, with afternoon temperatures peaking in the mid 70’s Fahrenheit. Wind will be moderate at around 10-15mph.
Tournament trends and key factors. Analyzing the final stats of the last 10 winners at Valderrama (all competitions) gives us a little better insight into the requirements for this test:
- 2021: Matt Fitzpatrick (-6). 55.4% fairways (44th), 57.0% greens in regulation (32nd), 80.6% scrambling (1st), 1.79 putts per GIR (35th).
- 2020: John Catlin (+2). 66.1% fairways (4th place), 47.3% greens in regulation (28th place), 68.4% scrambling (5th place), 1.79 putts per GIR (33rd place).
- 2019: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-10). 64.3% fairways (19th), 47.2% greens in regulation (66th), 73.7% scrambling (2nd), 1.43 putts per GIR (1st).
- 2018: Sergio Garcia (-12, 3 laps). 78.6% fairways (10th), 77.8% greens in regulation (4th), 58.3% scrambling (6th), 1.60 putts per GIR (7th).
- 2017: Sergio Garcia (-12). 62.5% fairways (24th), 65.3% greens in regulation (9th), 52.0% scrambling (27th), 1.68 putts per GIR (9th).
- 2016: Andrew Johnston (+1). 78.6% fairways (1st), 70.8% greens in regulation (1st), 52.4% scrambling (20th), 1.82 putts per GIR (25th).
- 2011: Sergio Garcia (-6). 69.6% fairways (10th), 63.9% greens in regulation (10th), 61.5% scrambling (4th), 1.74 putt per GIR (8th).
- 2010: Graeme McDowell (-3). 69.6% fairways (6th), 66.7% greens in regulation (1st), 58.3% scrambling (18th), 1.71 putt per GIR (4th).
- 2008: Soren Kjeldsen (-8). 57.1% fairways (29th), 58.3% greens in regulation (22nd), 73.3% scrambling (4th), 1.74 putts per GIR (12th).
- 2007: Justin Rose (-1). 51.8% fairways (26th), 55.6% greens in regulation (8th), 59.4% scrambling (7th), 1.67 putts per GIR (3rd).
- 2006: Jeev Milkha Singh (-2). 41.1% fairways (52nd), 59.7% greens in regulation (17th), 62.1% scrambling (16th), 1.77 putts per GIR (15th).
Hitting the tight fairways of Valderrama is only a small part of the task at hand, according to statistics from recent winners at the fairway.
GIR stats as low as this for winners (2018 was an exception due to the soft conditions) are extremely rare, which underscores how difficult it is to hit the tiny greens here and the winner must have a stellar week from the start Putting areas to create a winning score. Valderrama truly tests all aspects of a player’s game and any weaknesses are often cruelly exposed.
punches won: Overall, the last 3 winners here did their best work with the SG Tee to Green and SG Around the Green elements, with neither trio producing strong SG Approach figures on these small greens:
- 2021: Matt Fitzpatrick. T: 18th; A: 37th; T2G: 4; ATG: 1; P: 27
- 2020: John Catlin. T: 11th; A: 48th; T2G: 3; ATG: 2; P: 16
- 2019: Christiaan Bezuidenhout. T: 22nd; A: 36th; T2G: 4; ATG: 1; P: 1
button: T: SG from tee; A; SG approach; T2G: SG Tee to Green; ATG: SG Around the Green; P: SG putting.
Incoming form: Considering the recent form of the same winners at Valderrama and the prevailing trend, all the players have been in pretty good shape.
They include last year’s winner Matt Fitzpatrick, who lost a play-off at the Scottish Open and improved to 20th in his last start at Wentworth later in the weekth. The same goes for John Catlin, who despite a 125/1 chance was 8th in Austria and 6th in Wales before clinching a round of 68 for a good swing in the week before his win here in 2020 graduated
Bezuidenhout finished 3rd on his last appearance of 2019, while Garcia had finished 7th in the week before his successful defense last fall, including a final round of 65 to indicate he was on form.
The previous year, Sergio had finished 12th and 10th in the PGA Tour’s last two FedEx Cup PlayOff events before returning to Europe, and his effort in Italy in the week before his win here showed promise as he finished over the weekend took 6th place. The others have also all had convincing performances in recent weeks, as the following statistics confirm:
- Matt Fitzpatrick: 4/MC/23/MC/10/55/2/26/57/MC/MC/20
- John Catlin: 22/16/2/MC/MC/MC/8th/43/51/6/MC/25
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout: MC/24/67/2/9/36/4/14/MC/MC/25/3
- Sergio Garcia: MC/70/MC/MC/12/8th/MC/MC/39/MC/24/7
- Sergio Garcia: 12/20/21/2/37/39/MC/35/12/10/MC/30
- Andrew Johnston: MC/22/71/4/45/MC/15
- Sergio Garcia: 20/MC/7/2/9/39/53/12/32/31/12/1
- Graeme McDowell: 26/28/4/1/1/21/23/31/22/MC/3/17
- Soren Kjeldsen: 7/38/MC/MC/7/MC/MC/16/30/MC/16/4
- JustinRose: 9/30/12/2/12/14/MC/5/11/2/9/21
- Jeev Milkha Singh: 5/8th/21/MC/MC/3/25/14/8th/3/21/13
course form: Quite a mixed bag here in terms of course form, with Jeev Milkha Singh and Beef Johnston winning on their competitive debut, while Soren Kjeldsen, Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia (three times) all had strong records here before winning.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout’s record sits somewhere in the middle of these extremes with a debut 29th place finish, but in doing so he rebounded from an opening round of 77 to post one of the best overall results of the last 2 rounds. John Catlin missed the cut by a couple of shots on his only other start here before winning here in 2020, and it’s a similar story for defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick:
- Matt Fitzpatrick: MC
- John Catlin: MC
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout: 29
- Sergio Garcia: 7/5/7/7/2/2/2/34/4/10/1/3/1
- Sergio Garcia: 7/5/7/7/2/2/2/34/4/10/1/3
- Andrew Johnston: Debut
- Sergio Garcia: 7/5/7/7/2/2/2/34/4/10
- Graeme McDowell: 55/15/22/32/4/8th
- Soren Kjeldsen: 55/25/22/18/2
- Justin Rose: 18/44
- Jeev Milkha Singh: Debut
All in all, it looks like the most likely winner will be a player who can handle a grind, who has shown good form lately and who is performing well on the greens. Accuracy off the tee as well as on approach shots is an advantage and far outweighs power in my opinion.
Birdies are very scarce here at Valderrama – last year’s winner, Matt Fitzpatrick, only went 13 red this week – and players who thrive on swinging birdie streaks are often frustrated by this tricky setup.
My selection is as follows: