End of Era at Valderrama?

12 Sep

Junta in hot water with European Tour… Sergio García on the way to victory in 2011 (Photo: Fernando Herranz)

By Pedro Bolichero

Valderrama’s pre-eminent role on the Spanish golfing scene could have come to an undignified end after the effectively 11th hour cancellation of the third edition of the Andalucía Masters, due to be held from 18 to 21 October.

The decision was expected after the Socialist Party was forced into coalition with the Izquierda Unida (United Left) party following regional elections in March, and one of its members (Rafael Rodríguez Bermúdez) became the new minister for tourism and commerce and implied there would be new budgetary priorities: i.e. not major investments focused on just one golf event. (It is understood the Junta’s investment in the tournament totalled €3 million.)

Graeme McDowell won the first Andalucía Valderrama Masters in 2010 (Photo: Golffoto)

The dire financial situation in Andalucía, as in the rest of the country, would also have had a significant influence on the Junta de Andalucía’s decision but none of that appeased the European Tour – peeved more than anything else about the late timing of the announcement.

In a statement, the tour noted, “The Junta de Andalucía confirmed this decision by letter, which they also announced by a press release on Monday 10 September. Despite discussions with the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, and a formal legal agreement with the Junta de Andalucía, the tournament, won in 2011 by Sergio García, will not take place.”

Valderrama’s iconic 17th

Tour executive director George O’Grady added, ”This is extremely disappointing news to receive, especially at such a late date. We have been long-term partners with the Junta for over 25 years. In that time we have been together with many other events: the Volvo Masters staged in Andalucía from 1988-2008, two American Express World Golf Championships, won by Tiger Woods in 1999 and Mike Weir in 2000, and the jewel in the crown, the 1997 Ryder Cup played at Club de Golf Valderrama. We have worked together to promote the region, and the Junta de Andalucía and the European Tour have enjoyed an exceptionally strong and committed long-term partnership.

“We feel the disappointment not only for our members and all committed to broadcasting and reporting this tournament and the region on a global scale, but also for the many visitors, especially from northern Europe, who coincide their vacations with the tournament.

“We will work with the Junta to rectify this situation both now and in the future”.

With Valderrama’s new membership and management committee seemingly less enthusiastic about hosting major events, the 2011 Andalucía Masters – when Sergio García became the first Spaniard to win a tour event at Valderrama – could be the club’s swansong on the international stage, at least at the same level.

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