Ireland’s Peter Lawrie will be hoping to become the first player to defend the Spanish Open title since Max Faulkner achieved the feat in 1952-53.
If he’s to be successful, Lawrie will have to get past a high-class field at PGA de Catalunya including a strong representation from Spain. Miguel Angel Jimenez, Alvaro Quiros, Pablo Larrazabal and the, on-form, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano will be among those hoping to be the first home winner of the event since Sergio Garcia in 2002.
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.
Designed by Neil Coles and Angel Gallardo and opened for play in 1999, the layout is owned by European Tour Courses. PGA de Catalunya played host to the 1999 Sarazen World Open won by Thomas Bjorn, the 2000 Spanish Open won by Brian Davis and, from 2008-2010, it’s the venue for the final stage of European Tour Qualifying School.
Venue: PGA Golf de Catalunya
Date: April 30 – May 3
Course stats: par 72, 7,204 yards
Purse: €2,000,000 Winner: €333,330
Defending champion: Peter Lawrie (-15)
Thursday 30 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Friday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Saturday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12.30pm
Sunday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12.30pm
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano – The Spaniard has finished second in his last three starts on the European Tour in: Portugal, China and Korea. He’ll be hoping to go one better this week and will be amongst the favourites.
Oskar Henningsson – The Swede knows the course well as he won Qualifying School around the layout at the end of 2008. Six rounds in six days around the course should give him some crucial local knowledge.
Soren Kjeldsen – The Dane should not be overlooked when the tour heads for Spain. He won last year’s season-ending Volvo Masters and tasted victory in this season’s Open de Andalucia.
Key hole: 17th. A testing par-4 of 465 yards that dog-legs left. Anything left off the tee is in trouble so they’ll aim to land their tee shots short and right of the fairway bunkers. That leaves a long and testing approach.
Skills required: Straight hitting. Winding through a beautiful pine forest, the course at PGA de Catalunya is tree-lined. Stray off the straight and narrow and your path to the green could well be blocked.