Valde-drama: The greatest episodes in the history of this week’s host of the Andalucia Masters

The Spanish course has witnessed victories from all of the greats of European golf – and Tiger Woods was a winner there too.

It's a term that has fallen out of favour, but there was once a time when Valderrama was known as "Valde-drama".

The exclusive club's course in the south of the Spain was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1974 and it was originally known at Sotogrande New, then Las Alves, before its acquisition by multi-millionaire Jamie Oritz-Patino whose passion was to host the Ryder Cup at the newly titled and re-designed Valderrama.

Before that honour, the club had to prove itself by hosting the European Tour's Volvo Masters and in more recent times it has become home to the Andalucia Masters.

In all those years the course has had a habit of creating great storylines and prompting real golfing theatre.

One reason for this is that the track can be a severe test.

The fairways are lined by cork trees and sometimes they even impact on shots that have found the fairway. The rough is also clingy, placing a high premium on both finding the short grass and also having a smart short game.

Ahead of this week's edition of that event, in which Jon Rahm will seek to land a first win on the famous layout, let's take a look at the highlights of Valderrama's history.

1988 - debut on the European Tour

It didn't take long for the tournament to be revealed as a brute.

The 1988 Volvo Masters was its debut on the schedule and at the end of the first round only six of 80 players had broken 73.

The tournament was the Tour's first elite-field end-of-season finale and yet 13 of them didn't break 80 on that Thursday.

It was Slaughter on the leaderboard. Quite literally, in fact: the American John Slaughter posted 78-7867-79 to finish last of those who made the cut.

By the end of the week, however, the top of the leaderboard was the perfect reflection of the state of European golf.

Nick Faldo claimed the win, Severiano Ballesteros was second, Sandy Lyle third, Ian Woosnam fourth.

1997 - the Ryder Cup

It was not only the club owner who wanted to host the continental clash - it was also the dearest wish of Europe's talisman Ballesteros to captain the team on home soil.

In 1997 the double dream came true and Ballesteros did everything in his power to ensure a win.

For many of his team that threatened to be a problem, as he raced around the course on his buggy, pestering them with unwanted advice.

It was said later that the European team won the match for Ballesteros and also in spite of his frenetic leadership, which had started with what was effectively the sacking of Miguel Angel Martin, using an injury as a ruse to have him replaced by Jose Maria Olazabal.

Martin threatened legal action and the frenzied nature of that incident set the scene for what was to follow.

Europe edged Friday's play by one point, but dominated on Saturday to open up a 10.5-5.5 advantage.

The Americans fought back on Sunday, inspired by a series of dominant performances.

Fred Couples destroyed Ian Woosnam 8&6 in the top match, Mark O'Meara toppled Jesper Parnevik 5&4, and Tom Lehman thrashed Ignacio Garrido 7&6.

Eventually Europe, and Ballesteros, fell over the finish line to win by a point and had much to thank Costantino Rocca for - the Italian was the unlikely 4&2 winner of his tussle with Tiger Woods.

1999 - WGC status

High excitement as Tiger Woods traveled to Spain in hot form having won the PGA Championship and WGC Bridgestone Invitational in recent months (just his second Major win, followed by his first WGC success).

He got off to a slow start in Spain, sneaking into the top 10 at halfway with rounds of 71-69, yet a Saturday 70 was enough to get him into a five-way tie for third, just one shot back of the leaders heading into the final round.

On Sunday only two players passed a ferocious Valderrama test. Woods carded a 68 to reach 6-under 278 for the week and home favourite Miguel Angel Jimenez matched him.

The pair ended the week five clear of Dudley Hart (the trio were alone in ending the week in red numbers) and Woods birdied the first extra hole to claim the win.

A year later he couldn't defend his title in the final WGC venture to the track. The Canadian Mike Weir emerged triumphant.

2002 - return of the Volvo Masters

The club's revival as an event host witnessed one of the great enduring controversies in European Tour history.

Only three men ended the week under-par: Bradley Dredge was alone in third on 1-under, with Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie tied on 3-under.

The final round had started late in order to accommodate television schedules and then Montgomerie was taken to the TV compound after his round to view footage of an incident on the 10th hole.

It left mere minutes for the play-off to take place in the gloom and it was called off after two holes with the pair sharing the title and prize money.

The newspapers branded the final day of one of the Tour's most prestigious events a "farce", but the co-winners took it on the chin.

"I have great respect for this man," Montgomerie said of Langer.

"Mother Nature would not allow us to continue again," said the German.

2004 - Ian Poulter's breakthrough

The Englishman's confidence had seen him begin his European Tour career in audacious fashion.

He graduated from the 1999 Challenge Tour with a win in the Ivory Coast and then triumphed in each of the next four seasons (twice in 2003).

That form earned him a spot on the 2004 Ryder Cup team where he lost a four-ball and won his singles in Europe's dominant victory.

His wins had come in good events, but he was yet to succeed in elite company and he achieved that for the first time at the 2004 Volvo Masters, defeating Sergio Garcia in a play-off.

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"I believe I'm capable of winning two, three, four, five times in a year," he said afterwards. "I am hard on myself and that's the only way I guess you can keep moving forward.

"I'm not satisfied with finishing second and third. I don't like losing. I'm a bad loser and I'm not ashamed to admit it."

2011-2018 - the Sergio Garcia years

The Spaniard has always been a neat fit for the test, which places greater emphasis on the long game and scrambling than putting.

In the WGC American Express Championship and Volvo Masters he had racked up nine top 10 finishes in 10 starts and three times he finished second, yet the win was stubbornly refusing to come.

When the damn finally broke, it did so in spectacular style: the course played host to three Andalucia Masters between 2011 and 2018, and Garcia won every single one of them.

READ MORE: Acciona Open de Espana: Rafa Cabrera Bello ends four-year title drought

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