Sergio Garcia continues his love affair with Valderrama

Spanish host one shot off the leader Victor Perez after opening 66

Sergio Garcia’s love affair with Valderrama shows no signs of abating after the tournament host made a flawless start to his bid for a fourth straight win in the Andalucia Masters.

Garcia first claimed the title in 2011 before it dropped off the European Tour schedule for five years and he then won in both 2017 and 2018, when bad weather meant a 54-hole event and a Monday finish.

In total the former Masters champion has recorded an incredible 13 top-10 finishes in 14 appearances at Valderrama and a bogey-free 66 in Thursday's opening round left the 39-year-old just a shot off the lead held by France's Victor Perez.

“I love this place, there’s no doubt about that,” said Garcia, who has missed the cut in three of his last four starts and said he “looked like a 25-handicapper” during the recent US Open.


“Today was a great round, probably the best I’ve felt in quite a while. Even though the conditions were great – there wasn’t much wind and this course is so pure – you still have to hit the shots in the right places and to be able to go bogey-free here it’s always a treat.

“It [Valderrama] kind of has something that helps me. It was a great first round but it was just the first round, we have to keep building on that and we’re looking forward to a good week. You’ve got to go one step at a time, there’s a lot of golf to be played.”

Perez, who has missed the cut in four of his last five starts, carded six birdies in a bogey-free 65 to lead by one from Garcia, Anton Karlsson, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Sihwan Kim and Gavin Green, with world number 11 Jon Rahm three shots further back following a 69.

“Two under par is a great round and hopefully I can come out early in the morning and do what the leaders did and shoot something low,” Rahm said after a round containing an eagle, four birdies and four bogeys.

“I think it’s my first round under par here in a tournament. It feels good coming out of Pebble [Beach] playing some solid rounds, I just hope I can keep that going and avoid the few mistakes I made today.”

The three Irish golfers in action all finished over par after their opening rounds, with Gavin Moynihan the best of them after carding a one-over 72.

Michael Hoey signed for a three-over 74, while Paul Dunne was a shot further back after a 75.

On the US PGA Tour, Ireland’s Séamus Power dropped down the leaderboard after carding a closing double-bogey six at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.

Three birdies and a lone bogey on his front nine got Power to two under, but he suffered a second bogey on the 10th hole and went back over par with his six on the final hole as he signed for a one-over 73.

American Nate Lashley blazed a trail to the early clubhouse lead after a nine-under 63 that included five birdies in his last six holes.

(British and Irish unless stated, par 71):

65 Victor Perez (Fra)

66 Sihwan Kim (Kor), Anton Karlsson (Swe), Sergio Garcia (Esp), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Gavin Green (Mal)

67 Julian Suri (USA), Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Bradley Dredge

68 Adri Arnaus (Esp), Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Niklas Lemke (Swe), Joost Luiten (Ned), Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Richard McEvoy, Pablo Larrazabal (Esp), Scott Jamieson, Joachim B. Hansen (Den), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind)

69 Victor Dubuisson (Fra), Ross Fisher, Jon Rahm (Esp), Filippo Bergamaschi (Ita), Oliver Wilson, David Horsey, Chris Paisley, Lee Slattery

70 Steven Brown, Andrew Johnston, David Law, Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Daniel Gavins, Oliver Fisher, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), David Lipsky (USA), Espen Kofstad (Nor), Matthew Nixon, David Howell, George Coetzee (Rsa), Nick Cullen (Aus), Matthew Southgate, Jin-ho Choi (Kor), Hideto Tanihara (Jpn), Alvaro Quiros (Esp), Romain Wattel (Fra), Andres Romero (Arg), Santiago Tarrio Ben (Esp), Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry), Justin Walters (Rsa)

71 Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Jason Scrivener (Aus), Jose-Maria Olazabal (Esp), Dean Burmester (Rsa), Thomas Bjorn (Den), Alejandro Canizares (Esp), Eduardo Ger Lao Riva (Esp), (a) Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra (Esp), Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Richie Ramsay, Clement Sordet (Fra), Ashley Chesters, David Borda (Esp), Samuel Del Val (Esp), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Andy Sullivan, Deyen Lawson (Aus), Jeunghun Wang (Kor), Bernd Ritthammer (Ger), Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), Jens Dantorp (Swe)

72 Javier Colomo (Esp), Ashun Wu (Chn), Jack Singh Brar, Grant Forrest, Kim Koivu (Fin), Aaron Rai, Kristian Krogh Johannessen (Nor), Robert Rock, Johannes Veerman (USA), John Catlin (USA), Sean Crocker (USA), Kalle Samooja (Fin), Paul Waring, Stuart Manley, Paul Peterson (USA), Gavin Moynihan, Jamie Donaldson, Richard Sterne (Rsa)

73 Ben Evans, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Jorge Campillo (Esp), Renato Paratore (Ita), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Adrien Saddier (Fra), Robert Karlsson (Swe), Adam Bland (Aus), Hyo-won Park (Kor), Max Schmitt (Ger), Darius Van Driel (Ned), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Adrian Otaegui (Esp), Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn), Hugo Leon (USA), Kristoffer Reitan (Nor), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Liam Johnston, Andrea Pavan (Ita), Nino Bertasio (Ita)

74 Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Scott Hend (Aus), Per Langfors (Swe), (a) Alejandro Del Rey (Esp), Jack Senior, Nacho Elvira (Esp), Thomas Detry (Bel), Michael Hoey, SSP Chawrasia (Ind), Shiv Kapur (Ind), Zander Lombard (Rsa), Pep Angles (Esp), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp), Rikard Karlberg (Swe), Tom Murray, Pedro Figueiredo (Por), Pedro Oriol (Esp), Sam Brazel (Aus), Matthew Fitzpatrick

75 Ricardo Gouveia (Por), Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Christofer Blomstrand (Swe), Alfredo Garcia-Heredia (Esp), Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Matthias Schwab (Aut), Marc Warren, Jake McLeod (Aus), Paul Dunne, Louis De Jager (Rsa), Joel Girrbach (Swi), Min Woo Lee (Aus)

76 Jeff Winther (Den), Callum Shinkwin, Luis Gagne (Crc), Benjamin Hebert (Fra), Dimitrios Papadatos (Aus)

77 David Drysdale, Stephen Gallacher, Max Orrin, James Morrison

78 Ivan Cantero Gutierrez (Esp), Guido Migliozzi (Esp)

79 Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Kurt Kitayama (USA), Sebastian Soderberg (Swe), Pelle Edberg (Swe)