Alejandro Del Rey, Victor Pastor and Koen Kouwenaar are the three amateurs who have received an invitation to play in this 2019 Open de España. They have done more than enough to earn the opportunity to experience a first-class professional tournament, although it will not be the first for the Spaniards, who have already competed on the European Tour as amateurs.
Alejandro Del Rey and Victor Pastor are drawing near to the end of their successful amateur careers, as they are both in the final years of their university studies, which is why the Spanish Golf Federation has decided to reward them with this opportunity, in the knowledge that there are many other players who would be able to enjoy an invitation, but who will do so in years to come. Victor Pastor and Alejandro Del Rey both competed in the 2018 Open de España at the Centro Nacional de Golf, although they enjoyed mixed fortunes with Del Rey missing the cut and the Malaga native Pastor surprising everyone with an astonishing 12th place finish.
Without a doubt, the week belonged to Jon Rahm, but if anyone managed to steal a little of his limelight it was certainly Victor Pastor, who even led the tournament on the first day alongside the Basque player. “It was a very positive experience and I learnt a lot from it, not just from the days when I played well, above all I learnt from the days when I played average, but I battled to get a result”, said Pastor regarding his first outing among the pros.
For his part, Madrid native Alejandro Del Rey is the more experienced of the three in these surroundings, as his appearance at the Open de España will be his third on the European Tour, having played last year’s competition as well as the Valderrama Masters earlier this year. The 2018 Amateur World Champion will be bidding to make his first professional cut, as he did not have his best weeks on the course in previous participations. “I’m very happy to be playing in the Open de España again, I’m really excited to play another tournament in my country, I really want to play well and show myself that I can do well on a difficult course against the best. I’d like to thank the RFEG for the invitation, because I know it’s not easy to give out invitations to amateurs, but I want them to know how exciting it is for us amateurs to play in weeks like this and how much it helps us when it comes to preparing to be professionals. It’s a week of learning where you can compare yourself with the best and see where you have to improve. I can’t describe how excited I am for that week to arrive”, said the young player from Madrid, who studies at the same university as Jon Rahm did, Arizona State.
And, finally, the Dutch Koen Kouwenaar will be making his debut in a professional European Tour tournament having won the right to do so with his victory at the last Copa de S.M. El Rey, held last March at Las Colinas Golf & Country Club (Orihuela Costa, Alicante). This Men’s Amateur International Championship of Spain is one of the most prestigious on the European amateur calendar, as demonstrated by its stellar list of winners, which includes names such as José María Olazábal, Darren Clarke, Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño and Sergio García.