There are not many competitions capable of influencing the evolution of a sport or even an entire country. Spain has been fortunate enough to host some of these events, such as the 1982 World Cup, the 1992 Olympic Games and the Ryder Cup held in 1997 at Real Club Valderrama, home of the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters. From October 13-16, spectators will have the opportunity to enjoy this event of the DP World Tour, the Spanish event with a higher money purse, and walk the same holes played by golfers such as Tiger Woods, José María Olazábal, Fred Couples and Nick Faldo in that historic duel won by the European team captained by Seve Ballesteros.
That Ryder Cup, the first held in continental Europe, marked a turning point in the popularisation of golf in our country and served as a spectacular boost for the promotion of Spain, Andalusia and the Costa del Sol as tourist and sport destination, benefits that are still being reaped 25 years later. Furthermore, that Ryder Cup, which came to Real Club Valderrama thanks to the efforts of Jaime Ortiz-Patiño and the support of a good number of institutional and private sponsors, is inextricably linked to the figure of the two number one players that Spanish golf has had throughout its history: Seve Ballesteros and Jon Rahm.
Seve Ballesteros, transformer of today’s DP World Tour, was at the helm of the European team (which included José María Olazábal and Nacho Garrido as players and Miguel Ángel Jiménez as vice-captain) and his meticulous approach was indispensable in leading the European team to the final victory over the United States. The 14 ½ -13 ½ win was clinched on the last hole of the final match of the final day when Colin Montgomerie conceded the final putt to Scott Hoch to earn a vital half point.
“For me it was a very special Ryder Cup: after all the Ryder Cups Seve and I had played together, it was the first time I played for him as captain. Seve was attentive to everything. He demanded a lot from us, the same as he had always demanded from himself and he was on top of all the players. Seve studied the American team’s game in depth and prepared the course so that we all played from the same areas to have the same opportunities, and with the help of “Pisha”, his right-hand man, he was absolutely right when choosing pairings. He conveyed to us the passion he put into everything he did and he was a great captain”, recalled José María Olazábal on the 20th anniversary of the 1997 Ryder Cup.
Although Jon Rahm was just a two years old kid when the Ryder Cup was played at Valderrama, his sporting future was also marked by that competition.
“Some friends of my father’s were at the 1997 Ryder Cup. When they came back, they encouraged him to play golf and we signed up for Eduardo Celles’ school. That’s how it all started, if it wasn’t for that Ryder Cup, I probably wouldn’t be here”, explained Rahm on his first appearance at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters. That trip by Jon Rahm’s parents friends, was decisive in directing their children steps towards golf, something that also changed the history of this sport in our country.
For his part, Rahm has always pointed to Seve Ballesteros as a beacon and reference.
“I don’t take it as a pressure being seen as a revulsive for golf, for me it’s a motivation. I would love to be able to help golf, even if it’s a small part of what Seve did in his time. I play thanks to him and the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama,” he explained at the 2018 Open de España.
The course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the best in Spain according to the most prestigious specialised publications, has been hosting top level tournaments such as the Volvo Masters since 1988, but was established in that glorious and unforgettable Ryder Cup. 25 years later, spectators will be able to experience again a good deal of unique moments at the eighth edition of the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, which has a comprehensive ticketing offer with individual day tickets, and four-day and weekend passes, with preferential rates for federated golfers and free entry for children under 13. Tickets can be purchased at edamgolf.es, from the Tickets menu on the tournament website or at the DP World Tour website.
The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, an event in the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai made possible by the essential contribution of the Real Club Valderrama, is sponsored by Estrella Damm and the Consejería de Turismo, Regeneración, Justicia y Administración Local of the Junta de Andalucía, jointly funded by the EU and was declared Event of Exceptional Public Interest by the Government of Spain.