Luiten can give the local hero plenty to think about
Lowry capable of Sunday charge up board
Story so far
Sergio Garcia was 5-1 Andalucia Masters co-favourite with compatriot Jon Rahm at the start of the week, but the two Spaniards have performed in contrasting fashion at Valderrama.
Garcia leads the field by a shot through three rounds at the famous Sotogrande course, while Rahm did not even make it to round three, missing the halfway cut with a seven-over-par total.
Garcia can be backed at 8-13 to claim his second Valderrama title on Sunday, bookmakers expecting the frontrunner to kick on to the line. The 2014 Madeira Islands Open winner, Daniel Brooks, is alone in second spot, with five-time European Tour champion Joost Luiten a shot further adrift in third.
Shane Lowry has suffered a double-bogey at the 18th hole in rounds two and three, but the Irishman can still hope to force his way into the thick of things from a share of seventh place.
-8 Sergio Garcia
-7 Daniel Brooks
-6 Joost Luiten
-5 Scott Jamieson, Jamie Donaldson
-3 Wade Ormsby
-2 Robert Rock, Ricardo Gouveia, Julian Suri, Shane Lowry, Anders Hansen
8-13 S Garcia, 13-2 J Luiten, D Brooks, 12 J Donaldson, 20 S Jamieson, 40 S Lowry, 66 W Ormsby, 80 J Suri, 100 bar
Valderrama is the favourite course of Sergio Garcia and the Masters champion has enjoyed plotting his way along the tree-lined venue over the last three days. He got off to a fast start with a first-round 66 and has stayed on the leaderboard ever since.
Garcia's record at Valderrama is hugely consistent. He has finished outside of the top ten just once in 12 previous starts there. Only one of those visits has yielded a victory, though, so he has blown plenty of excellent winning opportunities on this layout. Three times he has finished runner-up.
Although progress has been fairly serene to this point, with nothing worse than a bogey on the card, Garcia does not appeal as a wager at 8-13. There is a lot of pressure for him to deal with on Sunday, the locals turning out in their droves expecting to cheer a Sergio success, and tension may hit the tournament host if he starts slowly.
Daniel Brooks is likely to be a bag of nerves in the final threeball alongside Garcia. The Englishman lies 123rd in the Race to Dubai and needed to produce something special to keep his European Tour card. He had nothing to lose on Saturday, freewheeling to a 64, but he has everything to lose now. The locals will want him to fail and he probably will.
Joost Luiten is arguably the most serious threat to Garcia, while Shane Lowry should not be completely dismissed from six shots off the pace.
Luiten is a prolific European Tour champion, who conjured a final-round 63 to claim the KLM Open title last year, and he has the right style of play for Valderrama. Luiten has probably thought his name is on the trophy this week ever since he made an albatross at the 11th hole in round two. A solid finish to round three kept Garcia well within range for him.
Lowry will be fuming about giving up four shots on the 18th hole over the last two days, but he has stayed in contention without finding top gear. He has missed so many more fairways than he normally does. If the driver behaves in more typical fashion on Sunday and Garcia lets the weight of expectation get to him, Lowry could get a sniff of the trophy.
In-running outright punters are pointed towards Luiten at 13-2 as the best value at this stage, while final-round threeball punters should consider Lowry, who can outscore Julian Suri and Anders Hansen in the 11.35am UK and Ireland time match.
2pts 11-10 Sky Bet