The European Tour is in Spain this week for the first event of 2014 to be contested on European Soil. 44 European Tour winners are in the field at the NH Collection Open at Sotogrande.

The European Tour is in Spain this week for the first event of 2014 to be contested on European Soil. 44 European Tour winners are in the field at the NH Collection Open at Sotogrande.

This event is dual-ranking, counting towards both the European and Challenge Tours. With many of Europe’s best in America completing preparations for next week’s U.S. Masters, this event provides a good opportunity for an up-and-coming player to make his mark. It’s also a great chance for those on the Challenge Tour to earn some significant ranking points.

After his superb victory in the Trophee Hassan II, Alejandro Canizares will be one of the favourites this week. The Spaniard is looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd.

“It’s a course I know well,” he said. “I played the Spanish Championship there and sometimes practice there with my father.”

Other notable players in the field include Shane Lowry, Bernd Wiesberger and David Howell. Spaniard Santiago Luna will be making his 597th European Tour start – the 51-year-old will move to joint 7th on the all-time list of most appearances on the circuit, tying with Gordon Brand Jnr and Colin Montgomerie.

Just a few hundred metres from Valderrama, this will be the first time La Reserva de Sotogrande Club de Golf has been used on the European Tour. Designed by American architect Cabell B. Robinson and opened for play in 2003, it’s a long and demanding course featuring a number of elevation changes. It’s a venue where the wind could be a factor.

It looks like being fairly blustery this week and there could be some rain on the opening day for the players to contend with.

Venue: La Reserva de Sotogrande Club de Golf Cadiz, Spain
Date: Apr 3-6
Course stats: par 72, 7,234 yards
Purse: €600,000
Defending Champion: Inaugural event

Player Watch:
Bernd Wiesberger – The Austrian hasn’t enjoyed the best of starts to 2014, although he did manage a tie for ninth in the Dubai Desert Classic. He is, however, one of the most talented players on the circuit and this event could provide the perfect springboard for him.

David Horsey – Tied 10th in the Joburg Open, tied third in the Africa Open and tied 8th in the Trophee Hassan II, Horsey is clearly on form and will surely be there or thereabouts again this week.

Andy Sullivan – The Golf Monthly columnist will look to build on a second place finish in Morocco that included a superb final round of 63.

Key hole: 17th. A challenging par 4 that can be stretched to almost 500 yards, the tee shot must be threaded between bunkers on the left and a lake on the right. The water continues right down towards the green. This hole is fraught with danger and could be decisive on Sunday afternoon.