Lowdown:
The European Tour heads to Spain this week for the Open de España at Real Club de Golf El Prat near Barcelona. Alvaro Quiros defends the title and a strong field has assembled.
The tournament returns to Real Club de Golf El Prat for the first time since 1998, back then it was Thomas Bjorn of Denmark who secured the victory.
The Spanish Open is one of the oldest on the professional circuit – the first was hosted in 1912 when the competition was won by Arnaud Massy. Since then there have been some notable champions including Peter Thomson, Roberto DeVicenzo and Seve Ballesteros.
Last season at Real Club de Golf de Sevilla home favourite Alvaro Quiros secured a memorable victory. Beating England’s James Morrison at the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, he became the first Spanish winner of the tournament since Sergio Garcia in 2002.
Quiros will be looking to become the first man to successfully defend the Spanish Open crown since Max Faulkner achieved the feat in 1952-53.
Quiros is joined on the start sheet by a strong Spanish contingent including Miguel Angel Jimenez and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal who will be making his first Spanish Open start for seven years. Although not yet at full fitness, the 2012 Ryder Cup captain is confident of a good showing.
“My health is ok, not one hundred percent but bearable. It’s certainly no excuse not to play well!” he said.
Scotland’s Elliot Saltman will make a return to the European Tour this week following a three month suspension for marking his ball incorrectly at the Russian Challenge Cup. The 29-year-old is prepared for a difficult week.
“I am sure that a few (players) will give me a frosty reception. That will be difficult, but I will just have to live with it,” he said. Saltman will tee it up on Thursday morning with Matthew Nixon and Mark Tullo.

Venue:
Real Club de Golf El Prat, Barcelona
Date: May 5-8
Course stats: par 72, 7,298 yards
Purse: €2,000,000, Winner: €333,330
Defending Champion: Alvaro Quiros (-11)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 5 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Friday 6 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 10.30am
Saturday 7 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 12.30pm
Sunday 8 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 12.30pm

Player Watch:
Matteo Manassero – The teenage Italian is already twice a winner on the European Tour and he’s currently 13th in the Race to Dubai. He won on his last outing in Malaysia and should contend again this week.

Miguel Angel Jimenez – “The Mechanic” finished second to Lee Westwood last week in the Ballantine’s Championship. He’s never won this event and he’d love to add it to his CV.

Alexander Noren – The talented Swede can produce superb golf when on form and he’s showed good signs so far this year with a fourth place in Malaysia then a fifth in Korea last week. If he can find top gear in Barcelona expect to see him near the top of the board.

Where Next?
PGA Tour:
Wells Fargo Championship Preview