Andalusia Masters Contenders
Valderama is a particularly challenging course and requires immense accuracy from the fairways, while it’s also rewarded some of the best scramblers in the game in the last couple of years, with each of the top three in the last two renewals ranking in the top five for scrambling, so that’s certainly a metric for us to consider.
Min Woo Lee
It’s on that merit that out first pick of the week goes the way of Min Woo Lee. The Australian has one previous appearance here as he finished 23rd in 2019, though his underlying stats from that week and his emergence on the tour suggest he could be in for a very good weekend here.
A +4 opening round 75 can be forgiven on debut, but he then bounced back with a 67 on day two, the joint lowest score on that Friday.
In fact, only four players shot lower than Lee across the final three days, as he shot lower than the likes of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, and that bodes very well here.
His around the green game has also improved immensely, as he ranks third on tour for strokes gained: around the green, with each of the last two winners ranking either first or second in that regard, while he seemed to have a good read of these greens a couple of years ago as he ranked fourth for putting average.
He also led the way in par five scoring and so has all the credentials to pick up valuable shots yet again. His form has been inconsistent to say the least, though he won in Scotland earlier in the summer and backed that up at the Italian Open with a solid 12th placed finish, and he looks like good value here considering.
Martin Kaymer has Valderrama pedigree in abundance. Despite never winning, he’s never finished outside the top 30 in his seven appearances, with four of those being top-6 finishes and he has a brace of runners up showings, including last season after a two-year absence.
While his recent form is nothing to gawk at, he’s shown flashes of brilliance this season, with a second place at the BMW International Open this summer and a third at the Austrian Open back in April, so he’s no stranger to a big results and he’ll be determined to translate his good form at this course into his first victory.
Driving Accuracy is one of the most prevalent factors here, with trees and bunkers inexplicably dotted in the most frustrating of places, and while that hasn’t been the staple of Kaymer’s game this season, his last two starts suggest he’s gearing up nicely for this test.
In 25th and 45th placed finishes at the BMW PGA Championship and the Alfred Dunhill links, he ranked 5th and 2nd for Driving Accuracy, respectively, hitting over 81% of his fairways in the latter as well as 87% of his greens in regulation.
It was his putting that let him down in Scotland, though with the smaller greens here nullifying that we’d expect the German to get to grips pretty quickly here.
Richard Bland takes our final pick of the week, and while his Valderrama form doesn’t look great on the surface, he’s strung together some very solid rounds here in the past and his recent form will give him the confidence he needs to tackle it head on.
Indeed, a 62nd placed finish last year came largely down to a shocking nine over par Sunday, having gone level par across Friday and Saturday.
In fact, 10 of his last 12 round here have been a 73 or better, and now coming into the form of his career it would be a disappointment to see him shoot higher than that mark on any of the four days here.
The Englishman has averaged a top-5 finish every other event in his last 12 starts which is a remarkable feat at this level.
In that rich vein of form he can be competitive virtually anywhere and while he’s not the longest off the tee, the rest of his game more than makes up for it and that bodes well for this challenge.
MIN WOO LEE E/W
MARTIN KAYMER E/W
RICHARD BLAND E/W