Sotogrande - Sergio Garcia admitted he had a special connection with Valderrama as he began his bid for a fourth title at the venue with an opening round 66 in the first round of the Andalucia Masters.
"I love this place, there is no doubt about that," said 39-year-old Garcia who is five under, one shot behind leader Victor Perez of France.
"It kind of has something with me that helps me. Today was a great round, I hit the ball very well. It's probably the best that I've felt in quite a while."
Garcia has won the last three stagings of the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama in 2011, 2017 and 2018 and 10 other top tens from 14 appearances at a course he admits is his favourite in the world.
"It's just the first round and we have to keep building on that and look forward to a good week. It's still Thursday, you've got to go one step at a time, there's still a lot of golf to be played," added Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion.
South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Malaysia's Gavin Green, Swede Anton Karlsson and American Sihwan Kim were all alongside Garcia at five under.
Leading first round scores at the European Tour Valderrama Masters at the Real Club Valderrama, Sotogrande, Spain on Thursday (GBR/IRL unless stated, par 71):
65 - Victor Perez (FRA)
66 - Kim Sihwan (KOR), Anton Karlsson (SWE), Sergio Garcia (ESP), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA), Gavin Green (MAS)
67 - Julian Suri (USA), Matthieu Pavon (FRA), Masahiro Kawamura (JPN), Bradley Dredge
68 - Adri Arnaus (ESP), Mike Lorenzo-Vera (FRA), Niklas Lemke (SWE), Joost Luiten (NED), Haydn Porteous (RSA), Richard McEvoy, Pablo Larrazabal (ESP), Scott Jamieson, Joachim B. Hansen (DEN), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND)
69 - Victor Dubuisson (FRA), Ross Fisher, Jon Rahm (ESP), Filippo Bergamaschi (ITA), Oliver Wilson, David Horsey, Chris Paisley, Lee Slattery
70 - Steven Brown, Andrew Johnston, David Law, Joakim Lagergren (SWE), Mikko Korhonen (FIN), Daniel Gavins, Oliver Fisher, Tapio Pulkkanen (FIN), David Lipsky (USA), Espen Kofstad (NOR), Matthew Nixon, David Howell, George Coetzee (RSA), Nick Cullen (AUS), Matthew Southgate, Choi Jin-ho (KOR), Hideto Tanihara (JPN), Alvaro Quiros (ESP), Romain Wattel (FRA), Andres Romero (ARG), Santiago Tarrio Ben (ESP), Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR), Justin Walters (RSA)