Lowdown: The European Tour heads to Spain this week for the Madrid Masters at Centro Nacional de Golf. Charl Schwartzel defends a title he won in some style last season.
As the inaugural Race to Dubai approaches its climax, the heat is on for those looking to secure their place as one of the top-60 players who’ll travel to Dubai to contest the Dubai World Championship next month.

As a result, a strong field will assemble in Madrid this week. Major champions Paul Lawrie and Jose Maria Olazabal will be joined by Miguel Angel Jimenez, Paul McGinley plus a host of other top names.
Charl Scwartzel won the inaugural Madrid Masters last season at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid. The young South African fired four rounds in the 60s to finish on 19-under-par, three clear of Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez.

If he were to successfully defend the title this week Schwartzel would become the 31st player in European Tour history to win the same title at two different venues. He should have a good chance as he’s won before at Centro Nacional de Golf – he took the Open de Espana around the course in 2007.

Opened for play in 2005, the Centro Nacional de Golf is a hilly and exposed layout with water in play on a number of holes. If the wind gets up it could test the players.

Venue: Centro Nacional de Golf, Madrid, Spain
Date: October 8-11
Course stats: par 72, 7,242 yards
Purse: €1,500,000 Winner: €tbc
Defending Champion: Charl Schwartzel (-19)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 8 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 11.30am
Friday 9 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 11.30am
Saturday 10 – Live on Sky Sports Xtra from 1pm
Sunday 11 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 1pm

Player Watch:
Charl Schwartzel – The defending champion has also tasted success around this layout in the Open de Espana. Although he’s not enjoyed the best of seasons, the omens are in his favour this week.
Miguel Angel Jimenez – The Spaniard is always a consistent performer and he would love to secure victory in his home country. He’ll be in the mix on the final day.
Alvaro Quiros – With the ability to launch drives further than almost everyone on planet golf, he’ll contend this week if he can find fairways.

Key hole: 17th. A testing par 3 that stretches to over 200 yards. Water lurks all down the left side and bunkers wait right of the green. Par is a good score here and it could be the scene of big swings as the tournament reaches its climax.

Skills required: Accuracy – The rough at Centro Nacional de Golf tends to be punishing so straight driving will be at a premium. Find the fairways and this is a layout that will produce low scoring – that’s proved by Schwartzel’s winning total of 16-under-par in the 2007 Open de Espana.

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