Ryder Cup heroes Thomas Bjørn and Lee Westwood will return to the scene of their debuts in the biennial contest when they tee it up in the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters from September 3 – 6.
The pair made their Ryder Cup bows at Real Club Valderrama in 1997, when Europe – captained by the late, great Seve Ballesteros- retained the coveted trophy with a 14½ – 13½ victory over the United States.
Between them they contributed 3.5 points to the European cause, as Westwood earned two points alongside Nick Faldo in the foursomes and four-ball matches, and Bjørn added a half in the Sunday singles against Justin Leonard to the point he won with Ian Woosnam against Leonard and Brad Faxon.
Westwood is bidding for a European record-equalling 11th Ryder Cup appearance at Whistling Straits next year. The former World Number One is currently third on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex after his victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA in January.
“There isn’t much you can say about Valderrama that hasn’t already been said,” said Westwood. “It’s a fantastic golf course, and 1997 was very special because I made my Ryder Cup debut there and then won the Volvo Masters a few weeks later.
“It is an incredible test of golf, and it’s testament to Robert Trent Jones’ design that it has remained unchanged over the last 30 years. It’s a course that we all enjoy playing, and it’s great to see how this tournament has developed over the last four years.”
His close friend Bjørn is also looking forward to returning to the venue where his Ryder Cup journey began, culminating in his victorious captaincy two years ago at Le Golf National, Paris.
“Valderrama is an excellent golf course, and a test which we all enjoy returning to,” said the 15-time European Tour winner. “To make my Ryder Cup debut in a side captained by Seve, in his home country, and at a world-class venue, was incredibly special.”
Joining them on the famous fairways of Real Club Valderrama will be former World Number One and two-time Major Champion Martin Kaymer and seven-time European Tour winner Bernd Wiesberger. Wiesberger enjoyed a career-best year in 2019 as he won three times in the same season.
The Austrian won Made in Denmark and then two Rolex Series titles at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and Italian Open en route to a career-high third on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.
At the 2017 Andalucía Masters, Kaymer said of Real Club Valderrama: “If there is one course I can play for the rest of my life it would be Valderrama – it’s so pretty. But you should never underestimate this golf course. It is a tricky golf course that you need a lot of respect for. The greens are very small so it is all about ball striking – it is never going to be a putting competition. You have to be very strategic and I really enjoy that. I’ve done well here in the past too, so those are all good reasons to come back.”
Bjørn, Kaymer and Westwood are a trio of ten former Ryder Cup players who will be teeing it up at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters.
The Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, an event in the European 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, declared Event of Exceptional Public Interest by the Spanish Government. This tournament is also supported by Rolex, Exterior Plus, Santander Private Banking and Shell. Callaway, Coca-Cola, Enterprise, Grupo Raga, Kyocera, Marca, Maui Jim, the Real Federación Andaluza de Golf, Riversa, Varma and Volvo are official suppliers.