Philip Reid’s Lowdown: Andalucia Masters and Northern Ireland Open
All you need to know ahead of this week’s European Tour and Challenge Tour events
The spotlight falls on Danish teenager Rasmus Hojgaard in Spain this week. File photograph: Inpho
Estrella Damm Andalucia Masters
Purse: €1 million (€156,000 to the winner)
Where: Sotogrande, Spain
The course: Designed by American golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Real Club Valderrama has a rich history: it was the home of the Volvo Masters which traditionally provided the conclusion to the European Tour season before the advent of the Race to Dubai, while it was the first continental course to play host to the Ryder Cup in 1987. The tight, tree-lined layout - Par 71, 7,028 yards - is renowned for its immaculate conditioning, with the risk-and-reward Par 5 17th hole, with water guarding the green, considered the signature hole in a tough closing stretch.
The field: South African Christian Bezuidenhout was a runaway winner a year ago but is not defending his title, and so the spotlight falls on Danish teenager Rasmus Hojgaard who is seeking a third win since the European Tour’s resumption. Two-time Major champion Martin Kaymer and another former world number one in Lee Westwood are also competing. Bernd Wiesberger, 30th in the world, is the top ranked player.
Irish in the field: Gavin Moynihan is in a group with Lorenzo Scalise and Alvaro Mueller Baumgart (9.10am Irish time); Cormac Sharvin is grouped with Wil Beseling and Eduardo de la Riva (10.10am Irish time), while Jonny Caldwell is in a group with Niklas Lenke and Tom Gandy (2.10pm Irish time)
Betting: It’s no surprise to find Hojgaard leading the market at 12/1, however, Haotong Li has shown glimpses of form and he is worth a look at 18/1 while each-way value can be found on Pablo Larrazabal at 90/1.
On TV: Live coverage on Sky Sports Golf from 11am.
Northern Ireland Open
Purse: €200,000 (€30,000 to the winner)
Where: Ballymena, Co Antrim
The course: Galgorm Castle - Par 70, 7104 yards - has established itself as a mainstay on the Challenge Tour and will also stage the DDF Irish Open later this month, although different tees are being used this week to protect the course. The 18th hole, normally a Par 5 for members, has been reduced to a tough, closing Par 4 for the professionals.
The field: Sweden’s Oscar Lengden missed out on lifting the Irish Challenge at Headfort last year when beaten in a playoff and has the opportunity for some redemption. He is one of a strong contingent of Scandinavians while Australian Deven Lawson and American Dodge Kemmer are likely contenders.
Irish in the field: No shortage of home challengers with no fewer than 16 Irish players competing: JR Galbraith (7.30), Josh Hill (7.50), Brendan Lawlor (8.50), David Carey (9.45), Stuart Grehan (10.15), Conor Purcell (10.25), Gary Hurley (10.45), Ruaidhri McGee (11.00), Conor O’Rourke (11.30), Michael Hoey (12.00), Robin Dawson (12.20), Paul McBride (12.30), Ronan Mullarney (1.05), Niall Kearney (1.25), Tom McKibbin (2.20).
Betting: Garrick Higgo, winner of the Sunshine Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship, is the market leader at 10/1 but better value might be found on his fellow Springbok Hennie de Plessis who is available at 28/1. Each-way value might be found on veteran Frenchman Gregory Bourdy who is 66/1.