Out of the Rough: Andalucia Masters (2023)
The DP World Tour stays in Spain for the second consecutive week for the Andalucia Masters.
Although this event has been a part of the DP World Tour’s schedule for six consecutive years, it’ll take place at a brand new venue.
The previous editions of this event was held at The Real Club Valderrama but that venue signed a five-year deal with LIV Golf following last year’s Andalucia Masters.
Therefore, this year’s Andalucia Masters will be held at Real Club de Golf Sotogrande.
Including this week’s event, there are just three events remaining on the schedule until the DP World Tour Championship. The Qatar Masters and Nedbank Challenge follow this week’s event.
This week’s field is highlighted by defending US Open Champion Wyndham Clark who is making just his fifth appearance on the DP World Tour.
His previous four appearances on the DP World Tour came with the last two Genesis Scottish Opens and Open Championships, which are co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour. Essentially, this is his first real appearance on the DP World Tour.
Joining Clark in this week’s field is New Zealand’s Ryan Fox. Fox was a victor on the DP World Tour a few weeks back at the BMW PGA Championship and placed second at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Adrian Meronk is another headlining name playing this week who looks to avenge the exclusion from Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup Team.
Other notable players in this week’s field include Victor Perez, Rasmus Hojgaard, Tom McKibbin, Thorbjorn Olesen, Robert MacIntyre, Jordan Smith, Adri Arnaus and Ewen Ferguson.
With this week’s venue being a brand new course to the DP World Tour, we do not have a lot to go off of, but there is some past history on the amateur side of things to go off of.
Real Club de Golf Sotogrande in San Roque, Andalucia, Spain plays as a Par 72 at 7,099 yards.
This course was actually the first track designed by legendary course designer Robert Trent Jones in Europe.
It was opened in 1964 and quickly became a notable track, hosting the Open de Espana just two years later.
A complete restoration of the course was agreed in 2011, spearheaded by Roger Rulewich who worked for 35 years as Jones’ right-hand man. He was joined by David Fleury as the course was restored to its original design.
In this restoration, bunkers were modernized, 37 hectares were turfed with Certified 419 Bermuda which was laid on the fairways and rough. The fairways were also reshaped and the greens were reduced back to their original size.
It was reported that throughout the years prior to the restoration, the greens had increased by almost 45-percent over the years.
The fairways featured this week are wide and receptive. There is no risk off the tee as this course is described as a ‘second shot’ track.
The greens are delicately molded and are very fast. Putting will be at a premium this week.
The greens are also heavily guarded by bunkers as 69 of the 100 bunkers featured on this course surround the greens.
Water is in play on a number of holes by virtue of the man-made lakes that are littered amongst the course.
Going along with the typical Jones’ designs, there are a few holes that are true risk-reward holes.
Holes four and seven on the front nine and holes 13 and 15 on the back nine are good examples of this. These holes will play as the toughest holes on the course and players will have to choose to grind out a difficult par or an easy bogey.
There are four attackable par-fives featured this week that must be taken advantage of by any hopeful winner. There are a few short par-fours featured this week as well.
Thursday will be a wet one to open this week. As of the time of writing this there is a 90-percent chance of precipitation. The good news is that there is just a 20-percent chance of precipitation for Friday through Sunday. Temperatures will range from 68-degrees to 72-degrees across all four days. Along with the rain on Thursday, winds are set at a staggering 25 miles-per-hour. With the way Thursday is shaping up, we could see some delays to start this week. Additionally, winds are set at 18 miles-per-hour for Friday before settling down to eight and six miles-per-hour respectively for Saturday and Sunday.
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Sand Saves Percentage
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)
Par Five Average Soring
Birdie or Better Percentage
Adrian Meronk (+2000)
Here we go, I’m ready to get hurt again. Adrian Meronk is a name I gravitate towards each time he is in the field and that’s for good reason. He is an elite talent on the DP World Tour. It’s just the third round that keeps putting him down. In the third round since The Open, he’s gone under par just once in the third round in six tournaments. Around that third round, he had just one round over par in five events or 14 rounds of golf. As previously mentioned, he has something to prove as he was left off of Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup Team. But, I always go back to the stats and Meronk lines up ideally this week. On the DP World Tour he is sixth in GIR%, eighth in birdie or better percentage, ninth in par five average scoring, 16th in SG: APP, 25th in bogey avoidance, 35th in scrambling, 61st in sand saves percentage, 68th in SG: PUTT and 77th in SG: ATG. I’m banking on Meronk getting over his third round yips and competing for a title this week. I’m playing two units on Meronk.
Alexander Bjork (+2800)
Per my model, Bjork is actually my overall favorite to win this week (excluding Wyndham Clark and Ryan Fox.) He is currently first on the DP World Tour in all three of SG: APP, bogey avoidance and scrambling. Additionally, he is fifth in SG: PUTT, eighth in GIR%, 14th in SG: ATG, 32nd in par five average scoring, 55th in birdie or better percentage and 94th in sand saves percentage. A very good resume for this course. The Swede has a second place finish at the Omega European Masters and a T18th at the BMW PGA Championship in his last four appearances. He also had a stretch earlier this season where he went T6th at the Porsche European Open, T9th at the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed, T8th at the Betfred British Masters and T4th at the Made in Himmerland. He can compete with the best of them on the DP World Tour and with this ‘second shot’ course, I’m all in on him. I’m playing a unit on Bjork.
Thorbjorn Olesen (+3500)
Olesen is another golfer I gravitate towards when it comes to these tracks that require a strong iron play. He’s fresh off a good showing at the Open de Espana with a T17th. Prior to that he went T10th at the Cazoo Open de France. In other words, he’s in some pretty good form heading into this week’s event. He’s currently seventh on Tour in SG: APP, 14th in par five average scoring, 16th in GIR%, 18th in bogey avoidance, 20th in birdie or better percentage, 25th in SG: PUTT, 28th in scrambling, 62nd in SG: ATG and 87th in sand saves percentage. I’m playing a unit on Olesen this week.
Julien Brun (+6500)
Julien Brun was my first click this week when I loaded the books. His value at +6500 is too good to pass up. Statistically speaking, he’s currently third on Tour in bogey avoidance, seventh in scrambling, tenth in SG: PUTT, 11th in SG: APP, 13th in SG: ATG, 29th in GIR%, 36th in sand saves percentage, 77th in birdie or better percentage and 112th in par five average scoring. Brun is also in some great form dating back to late august at the D+D Real Czech Masters. He’s placed 35th or better in each of the five tournaments since and top 25 in three of them. This stretch of good form is highlighted by a T6th at the Cazoo Open de France. I’m playing a unit on Brun this week.
Pablo Larrazabal (+10000)
I had to go with one Spaniard this week and that just so happens to come with some amazing value. Larrazabal has made three consecutive cuts coming into this week, including a T20th at the last week’s Open de Espana which many are equating to this week’s venue. He also has two victories on the season at the KLM Open in May and the Korea Championship in April. A victory on home soil is not out of the question. He also lines up ideally stats wise for this week as well. He is currently 11th in both SG: ATG and scrambling, 22nd in sand saves percentage, 28th in SG: PUTT, 31st in SG: APP, 56th in bogey avoidance, 59th in par five average scoring, 63rd in birdie or better percentage and 105th in GIR%. I’m playing a unit on him this week.