Sports Desk Blog | Golf's reign in Spain: "THE RECESSION may have struck, prize funds are down, several tournaments have disappeared but it isn’t all doom and gloom for the European Tour.
This week, the Tour has pitched camp at Valderrama on Spain’s Costa del Sol — or as the tourism people in these parts would have it, the Costa del Golf.
Valderrama is the brainchild of the Bolivian tin mine billionaire Jaime Ortiz Patino who in many ways set the trend for wealthy people to host the Ryder Cup — as Dr Michael Smurfit did at The K Club in 2006 and Sir Terry Matthews at Celtic Manor this year.
The Ryder Cup came to Valderrama in 1997 when Seve Ballesteros captained Europe to victory. The Robert Trent Jones junior designed course was acknowledged as one of the best in Europe if not further afield and over the years hosted the hugely successful season ending Volvo Masters. Irishmen Ronan Rafferty and Padraig Harrington won that prestigious event and in the process led the way home in the European Tour order of merit. Paul McGinley is another former winner and it was an event that held a special affinity for Irish fans who turned up in their hundreds every year.
However, all the time the Patinos were building more and more villas and apartment blocks on the site until such time that it now barely has the space to stage a tournament of the status of the 3m Andalucia Masters."