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Spain reappear on the Tour map with new two-tier event

It may not be the richest event on the schedule but the unveiling of a new dual-ranking tournament on the European circuit in Spain has offered officials hope that the country could be on the road to golfing recovery.

The €600,000 NH Collection Open, an event to be contested by players from both the main PGA European Tour and the second-tier Challenge Tour, will be staged at La Reserva de Sotogrande Club de Golf from April 3-6.

As one of the European scene's traditional heartlands, Spain hosted seven events in one season during its pomp but the Eurozone crisis led to a rapid reduction and only the Spanish Open went ahead last year.

"We hope this is a sign of recovery after a difficult time economically in this region," said Keith Waters, the European Tour's director of international policy.

South Africa has replaced Spain in recent years as the buoyant destination and the European Tour bandwagon will make the seventh of eight stop-offs in the country this week when the Africa Open takes place in East London. Craig Lee and Alastair Forsyth, who were among the frontrunners in the Joburg Open last weekend but fell away over the closing 36-holes, lead a host of Scottish hopefuls into action.

But the focus is on the contingent of natives, who will seek to continue their remarkable dominance of events staged in the country. George Coetzee's victory on Sunday means nine of the last 12 European Tour events staged in South Africa have been won by South Africans, while all four previous Africa Opens have been won by his countrymen.

Although Coetzee will not be in East London - he withdrew in order to prepare for next week's WGC-Accenture Matchplay Championship in Arizona - Justin Walters is just one of his compatriots desperate to make the most of home advantage.

Walters was joint second to Coetzee last week, the 33-year-old having shared the lead with another South African, Thomas Aiken, going into the final round before spluttering to a closing 73. "Any time you start to feel a bit of form you want to continue," Walters sighed at a pre-match press conference. "You never know week to week what's going to happen, but I'd like to get the momentum going and not be a one-week wonder.

"The game is its own beast, because we're in a different part of the country, different greens, different conditions, but I'd like to build towards something, get myself into position again and do a better job at the end."

At 6632 yards, East London Golf Club is very short by modern standards, with only the possibility of raggedy coastal winds its major bulwark against the type of carefree scoring which saw former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen win with a total of 27 under par in 2012.

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