Accurate iron play the key to success
Course form holds up at Club de Campo
South Africans enjoy the venue
The Open de España dates all the way back to 1912 and apart from 2017, when it was missing from the schedule, and 2020, when it was lost to the pandemic, it's been a regular on the DP World Tour since its inception in 1972.
Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, Madrid.
Par 71, 7112 yards
Stroke Average in 2022 70.08
The Club de Campo Villa de Madrid is a traditional inland course that sits 2,500 feet above sea level. It's a hilly course with sloping tree-lined fairways and well-bunkered, undulating greens.
Club de Campo Villa de Madrid has been the host course for the last three editions of this event (2019, 2021 & 2022) prior to that it was last seen on the DP World Tour back in 2008 when it hosted the first of four editions of the now defunct Madrid Masters, won by Charl Schwartzel.
It was also the venue for the now defunct Open de Madrid between 2001 and 2005 and it also hosted this event in 1996, as well as the final edition of another now defunct event, the Turespaña Masters in 2000.
It's a short track and in benign conditions, it can succumb to some very low scores. Ross McGowan opened the 2021 edition with a ten-under-par 61 and Jon Rahm shot a nine-under-par 62 in round four when winning the event for a third time.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 13:00 on Thursday.
Last Six Winners with Pre-event Prices
- 2022 - Jon Rahm -25 3.55/2
- 2021 - Rafa Cabrera-Bello -19 (playoff) 110.0109/1
- 2020 - Tournament Cancelled
- 2019 - Jon Rahm -22 4.03/1
- 2018 - Jon Rahm -20 5.04/1
- 2017 - No Tournament
- 2016 - Andrew Johnston +1 140.0139/1
- 2015 - James Morrison -10 500.0499/1
What Will it Take to Win the Open de España?
Here's the last 11 course winners, together with their winning scores and whatever traditional stats I could obtain.
2022 Open de España
Jon Rahm -25 DD: 2, DA: 27, GIR: 12, Scr: 7, PA: 2
2021 Open de España
Rafa Cabrera-Bello -19 DD: 52, DA: 20, GIR: 25, Scr: 2, PA: 22
2019 Open de España
Jon Rahm -22 DD: 1, DA: 3, GIR: 12, Scr: 3, PA: 1
2008 Madrid Masters
Charl Schwartzel -19 DD: 21, DA: 10, GIR: 2, Scr: 6, PA: 20
2005 Open de Madrid
Raphael Jacquelin -23 DD: 10, DA: 23, GIR: 34, Scr: 10, PA: 1
2004 Open de Madrid
Richard Sterne -18 DD: 2, DA: 61, GIR: 22, Scr: 14, PA: 5
2003 Open de Madrid
Ricardo Gonzalez -14 DD: 4, DA: 66, GIR: 10, Scr: n/a, PA: n/a
2002 Open de Madrid
Steen Tinning -19 DD: 60, DA: 1, GIR: 2, Scr: n/a, PA: n/a
2001 Open de Madrid
Retief Goosen -20 DD: 26, DA: 55, GIR: 1, Scr: n/a, PA: n/a
2000 Turespaña Masters
Padraig Harrington -17 DD: 13, DA: 94, GIR: 19, Scr: n/a, PA: n/a
1996 Open de España
Padraig Harrington -16 No Stats
- DD = Diving Distance
- DA = Driving Accuracy
- GIR = Greens In Regulation
- Scr = Scrambling
- PA = Putting Average
Jon Rahm, who has won three of the last four editions and two of the last three here, always gives it a good whack off the tee but he wasn't especially straight 12 months ago, ranking 27th for Driving Accuracy and it was a similar story in 2021 when Rafa Cabrera-Bello won.
Rafa won ranking 20th for DA but the next four on the leaderboard ranked 66th, 78th, 55th and 41st for DA, and we've seen two other course winners ranking poorly for accuracy so being arrow straight off the tee is clearly not imperative.
Rahm has finished first and second for Putting Average on the two occasions he's won here and when he finished 17th after a bright start in 2021, it was the putter that held him back.
Accurate iron play is clearly important given 34th is the worst any of the last ten winners has ranked for Greens In Regulation and Scrambling has often been a key stat too but the data is limited.
We've had Strokes Gained stats for the last three editions here but the only thing that really stands out is SG: Tee-to-Green with the winners ranking first, third, and first.
Course form key at Club de Campo
After last year's renewal, Rahm has won here twice but the 2021 edition is as good a guide as any to highlight just how well course form stands up here. Cabrera-Bello beat Adri Arnaus in extra time and the pair had finished second and fourth behind Rahm in the 2019 edition.
Like Rahm, Padraig Harrington has won here twice, and he was second behind Ricardo Gonzalez in 2003 before Gonzalez finished second to Charl Schwartzel in 2008. Rafael Jacquelin was fourth the year before he won here, Retief Goosen had course form figures reading 11-1-7, Brian Davis finished third in 2001 and second in 2002 and Paul Lawrie played here six times and finished inside the top-six three times.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
The last four editions have gone the way of two separate Spaniards, but the home contingent hasn't always shone and lower ranking Spaniards have a terrible record.
Since Seve won his third and final Open de España way back in 1995, only five Spaniards have taken the title and they've all been straight out of the top-drawer.
In addition to Rahm and Cabrera-Bello, Sergio Garcia won it in 2002, Alvaro Quiros in 2010 and Miguel Angel Jimenez's 21st and final DP World Tour title came in this tournament in 2014. If you've picked out a couple of low-profile Spaniards, previous results suggest you better think again.
An Englishman has won two of the last six renewals and British and Irish players have a decent record in this event, but three South Africans have won at this venue and three South Africans finished inside the top-eight and ties last year.
Winner's Position and Price Pre-Round Four
- 2022 - Jon Rahm - led by a stroke 1.715/7
- 2021 - Rafa Cabrera-Bello - led by two 2.546/4
- 2020 - Tournament Cancelled
- 2019 - Jon Rahm - solo fourth, trailing by two 3.02/1
Jon Rahm was inside the top-five all week last year and he sat inside the top-four places all week in 2019 when he won too. The two course winners before him were both within two of the lead after round one and in front after rounds two and three and Padraig Harrington was never headed after 36 holes in both 1996 and 2000 but a slow start can be overcome.
The 2021 playoff protagonists, Cabrera-Bello and Adri Arnaus, both trailed by six after round one, as did Ricardo Gonzalez (2003) and Richard Sterne (2004). And Gonzalez trailed by 11 at halfway and by six with a round to go!
The first three holes have averaged over-par in each of the last three editions so it's a slightly tricky start but it's not a tough track by any means and a fast finish is possible.
Grant Forrest flew home at the end in 2021, playing the last seven holes in seven-under-par to grab a share of third so it's the sort of venue at which a late run can be made.
Is Jon Rahm too short?
In a word, no.
Excluding the Open Championship, Jon Rahm has only ever played in 23 DP World Tour events, and he's won eight of them.
This is his fifth appearance in the Open de España and he's in search of his fourth win. And on the only occasion he didn't take the title, in 2021, he traded at odds-on after four holes and hit a low of 1.645/8 after he'd played his first eight holes in six-under-par.
On that occasion, a poor putting performance saw him post weekend rounds of 72-69 and he eventually finished tied for 17th but it's clear that he loves the venue, and he wasn't at is best at the time that year anyway.
He'd missed the cut at the Fortinet Championship on his previous start and he failed to make the weekend at Valderrama next time out.
Rahm was trading at around the 5/23.50 mark when he trotted up here 12 months ago, having finished runner-up at Wentworth in his penultimate start, and he's a perfectly fair price at around the same odds this time around.
Rahm hasn't won since he donned the Green Jacket at Augusta in April but after finishing fourth at the BMW PGA Championship, and having been unbeaten at the Ryder Cup two weeks ago, he's nicely primed to take the title for a fourth time.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter