- Open de España
Open de España
The first edition of the Open de España took place in 1912, twenty-one years after the foundation of the first Spanish golf club, Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria. When the Open was staged, there were only five other clubs in existence, apart from Las Palmas: Neguri in Bilbao, North Lode in Huelva, Pedralbes in Barcelona, Puerta de Hierro in Madrid and San Sebastián.
The venue for the inaugural event was Puerta de Hierro – at that time named Madrid Polo Golf – on its original site called “Las Cuarenta Fanegas” and the first winner of the 72-hole contest played over two days was the French professional Arnaud Massy. There was no follow up event for a further four years, when the home grown protégé of another Frenchman, Claude Gassait, came good.
Gassait was the professional at Puerta de Hierro and one of his first tasks was to establish a caddie programme for the members. From this emerged Spain’s first professional golfer, Ángel de la Torre, who turned pro at the tender age of fourteen. He claimed his first Spanish title in 1916 and went on to win another four before emigrating to America in 1926, becoming the head pro at Timber Point in New York.
Ángel moved back to Club de Campo in Madrid in 1932 but he lasted only four years in the capital until the Spanish Civil War broke out. Returning to the United States, he became head professional at Lake Shore Country Club in Glencoe, Illinois, where he remained in post for thirty-seven years, spending the winter months teaching at Tamarisk Country Club in California.
The Madrid club, renamed as Real Club de la Puerta de Hierro, hosted all seventeen editions of the tournament between 1912 and 1941. In 1942, the competition left Madrid for the first time and was played at San Cugat in Barcelona. During the rest of the 1940s, the Open rotated around three venues in the centre and north of the country: Neguri, Pedreña and Puerta de Hierro.
The most prolific winner at that time was Mariano Provencio, who lifted the trophy four times in three decades (1934, 1941, 1943 and 1951). The brothers Miguel then made their mark in the 1950s and 1960s with three wins each: Sebastián in 1954, 1960 and 1967; Ángel in 1955, 1961 and 1964. By the end of the 1960s, Spain had 3,094 amateurs, 109 professionals and 36 clubs.
In 1972, the Open de España was the inaugural championship played in the first official season of the European Tour and the winner, Antonio Garrido, became the first champion of the European professional ciurcuit. From 1973 to 1977, La Manga hosted five consecutive Opens, with Arnold Palmer a notable international winner in 1975.
In the 1980s, Seve Ballesteros won two of his three titles at El Prat (1981) and Vallromanes (1985). Sandwiched between those two victories, José María Olazábal finished as best amateur in 1983 and 1984 but he never managed to win the main event. Sergio García also finished as best amateur in three successive years, starting in 1996, but he went on to lift the Open trophy at El Cortijo in Gran Canaria in 2002.
In the new millennium, there have been several significant Spanish victories: Álvaro Quirós at Sevilla (2010); Miguel Ángel Jiménez at PGA Catalunya (2014); and John Rahm at both Centro Nacional in 2018 then Club de Campo the following year.
Puerta de Hierro has hosted the most number of Spanish Opens (28) but the last of these was back in 1961. Club de Campo has held nine tournaments, then comes the original course at El Prat with eight, ahead of La Manga with five and El Saler with four. The Open de España venue at Centro Nacional does not feature in our Spanish rankings so you will not find it listed below.
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