The European Tour's last full-field event is set to tee it up for the Telefonica Open de Madrid at the Club de Campo course in Spain.
The last event prior to the season-ending Volvo Masters Anadalucia holds quite a few subplots` including the race to finish in the top 115 on the Order of Merit (European Tour money list) which secures playing privileges for the 2004 season.
It's also the last chance for players to qualify for the lucrative Volvo Masters, where only the top 60 get invited to play.
Peter O'Malley is currently on the outside looking in, sitting in the 61st position. Arjun Atwal is in the 60th spot but won'l be playing this week, thus giving O'Malley a golden opportunity.
Another emotional subplot will be that of long time European Tour player Steen Tinning.
Tinning, ironically, returns as the defending champion of this event, but has announced that due to injuries, it will also be the last tournament of his career. It will be a nice way to go out for the 41-year-old Dane, who has two career tour titles to his name.
The Harry Vardon Trophy, which is presented to the player finishing first on the Order of Merit, has already been wrapped up as Ernie Els cruised to his fifth World Match Play Championship Sunday.
It is Els' first time to win the award following Retief Goosen's two-year run at the top. Darren Clarke currently is in second.
Els, Clarke and Goosen will not be in this week's lineup, but the field still is loaded with marquee players and offers a good look of the past, present and future of the European Tour.
Veterans Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal and Constantino Rocca will tee it up alongside current stars Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, while youth will be served with the likes of Adam Scott, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey.
The Open de Madrid will be played for the 30th time on The European Tour International Schedule in 2004 with Club de Campo hosting the event for a fourth successive season from October 21-24.
The announcement means that Spain will host the last three Volvo Order of Merit tournaments on The 2004 European Tour International Schedule with the Turespaa Mallorca Classic at Pula GC, Majorca, the previous week from October 14-17 and the season-ending Volvo Masters Andalucia at Club de Golf Valderrama, Sotogrande, from October 28-31.
Following last months Open de Sevilla and the Canarias Open de Espaa, won by Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina and Christian Cvar of France respectively, and the return to the country from November 18-21 for the World Golf Championships ' World Cup, Spain will be hosting no fewer than six events on The 2004 European Tour International Schedule. The Open de Madrid will be promoted by Amen Corner.
Ken Schofield, Executive Director of The European Tour, said: We are delighted to announce a sixth tournament in Spain with the Open de Madrid. We congratulate Amen Corner for promoting this tournament and express out gratitude to Club de Campo for hosting this event for a fourth successive season.
This event has consistently produced high drama and great theatre and I know all our Members will relish a return to Club de Campo in October.
The past three editions of the event at Club de Campo have proved a huge success. In 2001, Retief Goosen of South Africa won the title, beating Englands Steve Webster at the third hole of a sudden-death play-off after the pair tied on 20 under par 264, and in the process sealed the Volvo Order of Merit title for the first time.
The following year Denmarks Steen Tinning recorded his second victory on The European Tour International Schedule, a closing 67 giving him a 19 under par total of 265 and a one shot victory over Scotlands Andrew Coltart, Brian Davis of England and Australian Adam Scott.
In 2003, it was the turn of Gonzalez when he produced the biggest final round comeback on The 2003 European Tour International Schedule, coming from six strokes behind on the final day. A 72 hole total of 270, 14 under par, left him one stroke clear of Englands Paul Casey, Irelands Padraig Harrington, Australias Nick OHern and Maarten Olander of Sweden.
Designed by Javier Arana in 1932 and redesigned by Seve Ballesteros in 1994, Club de Campo has earned a reputation as one of the finest courses in Spain. In addition to hosting the Open de Madrid, Club de Campo has also hosted the Open de Espaa on eight occasions, the first of which was one by the 1951 Open Champion Max Faulkner of England in 1957. Since then Spains Sebastian Miguel (1960), Sam Torrance of Scotland (1982), Australian Rodger Davis (1990), Argentinas Eduardo Romero (1991), Scotlands Colin Montgomerie (1994), Ballesteros (1995) and Harrington (1996) have all won at Club de Campo.
Ricardo Gonzalez fired a final-round 65 to overcome a six-shot deficit and win the Telefonica Open de Madrid on Sunday. Gonzalez finished at 14-under-par 270 for his second career victory on the European Tour. Paul Casey, who held the lead on his own throughout the tournament, struggled with a 1-over 72 to finish one shot short. Casey was joined by Padraig Harrington, Nick O'Hern and Marten Olander