Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: European Tour 2020: Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Masters

European Tour 2020: Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Masters

The Covid-ameliorated UK Swing ended in dramatic fashion as Justin Walters capitulated at the famous Belfry. Rasmus Hojgaard’s victory only further cemented his burgeoning reputation as one of Europe’s most talented players.  

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Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Masters 
Real Club Valderrama, Sotogrande, Spain
3rd-6th September

This week sees the tour return to Continental Europe and yet another of Europe’s most prestigious courses: Valderrama. Designed by Robert Trent Jones and established in 1974, Valderrama has gone on to become one of the most storied venues on the entire tour.  Nick Faldo defeated Seve Ballesteros in the inaugural staging of the Volvo Masters in 1988. This was just a portent of things to come for hallowed Valderrama. Europe would defeat the United States in the 1997 Ryder Cup, elevating Valderrama into the annals of mythic status.

It was the first European Ryder Cup that was ever held outside Great Britain (cue more nauseatingly self-congratulatory images throughout the weekend). Tiger Woods would than go on to capture the WGC-American Express Championship in 1999 (which always goes a long way in immortalizing any golfing venue).  Graeme McDowell won the inaugural staging of this event in 2010, though the tour chose to pull the event just a year later. Sergio Garcia won the 2011 Andalucia Masters, and the renewals in 2017 and 2018- making it a hat-trick of victories for Garcia.

Valderrama is a short, tree-line course with Bermuda fairways and Bentgrass greens. It has notoriously narrow fairways and is one of the toughest courses on the European Tour. The greens are smaller than average and can be positively electrifying. In many ways they remind me of Augusta, which correlates well when you look at some of the players who have thrived here. Sergio Garcia is a former Masters Champion while the likes of Faldo, Ballesteros and Woods have all been Augusta aficionados. Look for players with great scrambling abilities and the ability to whether potentially windy conditions.

A fairly similar field is present to that that has graced the recent UK Swing. The Order of Merit winner for that little experiment- Rasmus Hojgaard- will be looking to make it back-to-back victories this week. The teenager’s composure is quite extraordinary and I fully expect him to be a Ryder Cup stalwart in the future. Martin Kaymer fell agonizingly short last week in pursuit of his first European Tour title since the 2014 US Open. Elsewhere, the likes of Thomas Detry and Andy Sullivan will be looking to build on their recent success on the UK Swing.

Past Seven Winners at the Belfry
2010: Graeme McDowell (-2)
2011: Sergio Garcia (-6)
2012-2016: no event
2017: Sergio Garcia (-12)
2018: Sergio Garcia (-12) *54 holes
2019: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-10)

Betting Favourites (To Win): 
Rasmus Hojgaard (12/1)
Bernd Wiesberger (14/1)
Andy Sullivan (14/1)
Martin Kaymer (14/1)
Thomas Detry (14/1)

Value Bets

Connor Syme
To Win (40/1), To Place (17/2)

Connor Syme comes off back-to-back top 10 finishes and three consecutive top 20 results. Syme managed to shake off the heartbreak of his near-miss at the Celtic Manor by recording another top 10 at the Wales Open. Syme is exactly the type of player who should thrive at Valderrama. He is incredibly accurate off the tee, currently ranked 3rd on the European Tour in driving accuracy.  The Scot will also relish the potentially windy conditions this week.

Calum Hill
To Win (66/1), To Place (14/1)

One look at the past winners will tell you this: your tee-to-green game has to be in fine fettle in order to persevere here. The likes of Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell have utilized their surgical iron-play to conquer Valderrama. That’s why I choose Calum Hill. His GIR stats in recent weeks read 16-13-5, showing a noticeable progression in precision. His brilliant 2019 Challenge Tour season was punctuated by excellent results on pernickety, challenging courses (wins at Adamstal and Silkeborg Ry attest to that).

The Man to Beat

Marcus Kinhult
To Win (28/1), To Place (6/1)

I’m opting for a player who should thrive in conditions that will require precision golf.  Kinhult is just the sort of no-frills player who should be able to navigate the breezy conditions.  He has shown some proficiency in Spain before, with a 6th and 3rd in two Challenge Tour events. The 25-year-old has picked up two consecutive top 15’s at the Wales Open and the Belfry. He has also lost in a playoff to Tommy Fleetwood at the Nedbank Golf Challenge: another event that puts a premium on accuracy. Kinhult is exactly the sort of under-the-radar challenger who could emerge this week.  

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