G Mac’s double dose of Valderrama fondness

Bernie McGuire

Graeme McDowell (Photo by Luke Walker/WME IMG/WME IMG via Getty Images)

Graeme McDowell tees-up this week with two super strong memories in having previously played ahead of today’s (Friday) LIV Golf Valderrama host course.

Valderrama, or fondly known as ‘the Augusta National of Europe’, has been playing host to major golf tournaments since the inaugural European Tour season-ending Volvo Masters in 1988.

Other LIV golfers to win at Valderrama include Lee Westwood (1997 Volvo Masters), Ian Poulter (2004 Volvo Masters) and Sergio Garcia (2011, 2017 and 2018 Andalucian Masters).


McDowell captured a slice of Valderrama history, winning the inaugural 2010 Andalucian Masters, and beating fellow Irishmen Gareth Maybin and Damien McGrane into joint second place.

GMac probably should have made two Valderrama victory toasts given he was momentarily leading the 2007 Volvo Masters after brilliantly holing his second shot for an albatross ‘2’ at his penultimate hole – the par 5, 17th.

McDowell hit a 186-yard approach at the notorious penultimate hole to the front edge of the green. The ball travelled a further 20 yards into the cup and propelled the Northern Irishman into a tied lead with one hole of the tournament to play.

Still pumped from the penultimate hole’s drama, his final tee shot found the trees and led to a double-bogey six when a par would have secured a play-off.

“I won here in 2010 and still have a yardage book from 2011 but good memories coming back here this week though also mixed memories as I had some rough weeks here but that is the type of golf course it is because if you are a little bit off your game, it can be a very, very penal golf course,” said McDowell.

“Though I have great memories being back here and none better than the albatross ‘2’ at the 17th on the last day in 2007, that put me at the time one shot in front of the field but with the leader still to play 17. I then played the last knowing I needed to birdie the hole to have a chance but hit my tee shot through the fairway, bounced it off a couple of trees and made a ‘6’.“ So that year, I finished 2nd which remains a bittersweet result.

“Like I say, some mixed memories returning here but then, as I said earlier, I won the Andalucian Masters in 2010 while chasing Martin Kaymer to try and win the Order of Merit that year.

“So, I have not been back here to Valderrrama in so many years, and I say that through slightly more mature eyes”.

Now aged 43, McDowell may find looking over the venue 13-years removed from his Valderrama victory, could prove very fruitful in this week’s $US 25m event.

“Playing the course it is a lot more beautiful than I remember it. To me, and speaking here of golf courses on continental Europe, Valderrama is head-and-shoulders the best course in continental Europe.

“It’s why I totally agree with the saying it is the Augusta National of Europe. It’s just a wonderful golf course, and we are just so proud here being a part of LIV.

“I’m also looking forward to seeing some of the guys who haven’t been here before and what they make of the place, as it is very special”.

“It is one of those golf courses that can seem to be benign in a practice round where you hit it down the middle, then go to the next and also hit it down the middle while it hasn’t been blowing at all.

“Though it is also one of those golf courses that when it firms up a bit, and you get a little bit of a breeze across it, it really does become very challenging.

“It’s been perfect conditions for the last couple of days and doesn’t seem particularly challenging.   As well, at this time of year and it is hot but there is a lot more water on the golf course and it is a little softer.”

McDowell will tee-up Friday along with all his LIV colleagues in an early afternoon shotgun start.

“Valerrama is just a classic venue and I am excited to be teeing-up this week.”

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