Mallorca Golf Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
THE European Tour returns to Mallorca this week for the first time in ten years, with Golf Santa Ponsa hosting the Mallorca Golf Open.
With a prize fund of €1million, the tournament replaces the Trophee Hassan II and completes the Iberian Swing before they all head to Portugal. The tournament will be played on the par 72 Golf Santa Ponsa I, designed by Folco Nardi in 1977, which has hosted European Tour events on six previous occasions.
Seve Ballesteros claimed the Open de Baleares title on the first of those in 1988, winning again in 1992, with Sweden’s Ove Sellberg (1989), South African Gavan Levenson (1991) and Englishman Jim Payne (1993) also victorious, while New Zealand’s Greg Turner triumphed at the venue’s other 18-hole course, Santa Ponsa II. Another legendary Spanish golfer, Miguel Angel Jiménez, won the Turespana Masters Open Baleares at Santa Ponsa I in 1998.
Mallorca also hosted a further seven tournaments at Pula Golf Club between 2003 and 2011, with Major Champions Sergio Garcia and José María Olazábal among those to win the Mallorca Classic (in 2004 and 2005 respectively). Darren Clarke then triumphed in the Iberdrola Open on the European Tour’s most recent visit to the Mallorca in 2011, just two months before the Northern Irishman lifted the Claret Jug at Royal St George's.
Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to add the Mallorca Golf Open to our 2021 schedule. Despite the ongoing international travel challenges caused by the global pandemic, we are fully committed to providing a full schedule of playing opportunities for our members, replacing any events which have been cancelled and minimising travel where possible.
“We are grateful to Golf Santa Ponsa, promoter eMotion and the Oficina de Turismo de Mallorca for their support.”
Rocio Nigorra Cobian, President of Golf Santa Ponsa, said: “We are thrilled to have a European Tour event back after so many years. It is now 23 years since the venue held a European event for a seventh time, with winners such as Severiano Ballesteros, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Ove Selberg. We feel this is a particularly important time to do our part in bringing this great international event back in Mallorca for everyone to enjoy. We are very happy to welcome all players, volunteers and sports lovers to take part and enjoy with us the great game of golf at its best. We believe this could be another step in the success story for golf in Mallorca.”
Edwin Weindorfer, CEO of the e | motion group, said: “Following the inaugural ATP Mallorca Championships we are very proud that we have succeeded in bringing another premium sporting event to Mallorca.
“The Mallorca Golf Open will be hosted in October in Santa Ponsa/ Calvia and we are confident that this event will become a long-term success on the European Tour schedule.
“This was only possible because of the great partnership with the European Tour, the support of the local authorities, including the Government of the Balearic Islands, the Council of Mallorca and the City of Calvia and the support of the Balearic Golf Federation and the Santa Ponsa Golf. With this tournament, one of the most beautiful golf locations on the island is once again the focus of global sporting interest.”
In addition to hosting the Mallorca Golf Open, the Balearic Island also hosts the final destination on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca when T-Golf & Country Club hosts the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final from November 4-7.
The tournament boasts a strong field as the Race to Dubai nears its climax.
Spanish golfers traditionally do well on home soil and the challenge will be led by Adri Arnaus, Pep Angles, Pablo Larrazabal, Jorge Campillo and Nacho Elvira. Arnaus, aged 27, is in a rich vein of form. He finished second at the Open de Espana, losing out in a playoff to Rafa Cabrera Bello, as well as finishing 24th at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and 12th at the Italian Open.
He had a successful year in 2017, winning the Spanish Amateur Championship and was a member of the Spanish team that won the European Amateur Team Championship. Arnaus played on the Alps Tour in 2017 as an amateur, winning twice. He won the order of merit, which earned him a place on the Challenge Tour the following year.
Arnaus won the end-of-season Challenge Tour Grand Final by a shot from Victor Perez to finish second in the Order of Merit and earn his place on the European Tour. Earlier that season he had finished second in the Cordon Golf Open, as well as enjoying a their place and three fourth-place finishes. His progress on the European Tour has been steady but there is little doubt that going so close to winning his national open will have done wonders for his confidence.
Look out, too, for another big week from young South African sensation Wilco Nienaber. Still only 21 years old, the biggest hitter on the European Tour has not enjoyed a great year but there have been some positive signs recently, with a sixth-place finish in the Open de Espana coming after finishing 36th at the Alfred Dunhill and 22nd at the Dutch Open.
Nienaber turned professional in 2019, making his debut at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, where he finished in a tie for 24th. In August last year he confirmed his massive potential when he finished fourth at the Hero Open at the Forest of Arden. In November last year he finished second in the Joburg Open - in the second round he hit his drive at the 597-yard par five fourth hole a scarcely credible 439 yards. Earlier this year he won the Dimension Data Pro-Am in his native South Africa. Nienaber is an astonishing prospect and there is far more to his game than big hitting. He also possesses a wondrous touch around the greens.
Golf Santa Ponsa is a par 72 measuring 7,200 yards. It is a tree-lined course that was designed by Folco Nardi and features plenty of water hazards and the 10th holes is one of the longest par fives on the European Tour at an impressive 645 yards.
Adri Arnaus finished second at the Open de Espana, his best performance on the European Tour. He has been improving steadily all year and will arrive in Mallorca full of confidence. He will also have tremendous local support.
Adri Arnaus. Full of confidence
Wilco Nienaber. Needs to keep the ball in play
Players to Follow:
Andrew Johnston. Go this season on track with a good finish at the BMW PGA Championship
Pep Angles. Another quality Spaniard
David Drysdale. As consistent as they come
Victor Dubuisson. Showing signs of life again
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