Peter Hedblom and Grégory Havret, the winners in 2009 and 2008 respectively, have confirmed they will play in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles from August 26-29.
Hedblom secured his sixth career victory at last year’s event with a spectacular five under par 67 and, after an indifferent start to the season, the Swede is looking forward to returning to defend his title.
He said: “Last year I had a similar start to the season, and until the week before the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles I hadn’t had a single top 30 finish. I lost in a play-off the week before, and then things just clicked for me when I arrived at Gleneagles.
“It’s a very special place, so I always look forward to returning and I will go all out to defend my title. I think the field will be unbelievably strong this year as it is the final qualifying event for Europe’s Ryder Cup Team, so everyone will be trying to make one final attempt to qualify or to catch Colin’s eye for a Captain’s pick!”
Havret finished second at the US Open two weeks ago with an impressive final round 72, three shots better than his playing partner Tiger Woods. As a result, the Frenchman jumped up the Official World Golf Rankings from 391st to 104th, and is now looking forward to the rest of the season with his eye firmly on a place in Europe’s Ryder Cup Team.
He said: “Finishing second was a big surprise but a big disappointment too, as I was in a great position. However, I took a lot of positives from my performance, and feel I played very well and handled the pressure. I am pleased overall with the way I handled it, and obviously it has given me a real boost towards my goal of qualifying for Europe’s Ryder Cup Team.
“With only ten weeks to go, every point is going to count and I think for many players it will come down to the final week at Gleneagles. I have played well at Gleneagles over the past couple of years, so hopefully it will be a great week for me.”
Colin Montgomerie, the Tournament Chairman, said: “The US Open was a fantastic week for European golf, with Graeme [McDowell] and Grégory finishing at the top of the leaderboard. While Graeme came out on top, Grégory also showed he can handle the pressure of being in contention at a Major Championship and was unaffected by the final day pairing with Tiger Woods.
“The way he handled himself and the way he putted really impressed me. The PGA Centenary Course obviously really suits Grégory, having won the Championship in 2008 and then finished third in 2009, so he will be hoping for a great week. It is going to be a fascinating week as so many players jostle for position in the Rankings.”
Previous winners of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles include England’s Warren Bennett (1999) and his fellow countryman Paul Casey who, to date, is the only player to have won the event on two occasions (2001 and 2006).
They are joined in the roll call of champions by Sweden’s Pierre Fulke (2000), Australia’s Adam Scott (2002), Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen (2003), England’s Miles Tunnicliff (2004) and Italy’s Emanuele Canonica (2005). The only Scot to have his name on the trophy to date is Marc Warren, who triumphed in 2007. This year’s winner will receive a cheque for £233,330 from a total prize fund of £1,400,000 as the players compete over The PGA Centenary Course, the venue for The 2014 Ryder Cup.
The tournament has secured the services of IMG, the world’s leading sports, entertainment and media company, to stage the tournament as they look to build on the heritage and prestige of the tournament and continue to raise its profile on the global stage.
Tickets for the Johnnie Walker Championship are priced from £22 for a daily ticket to £45 for a season ticket, and are available on the gate. Normal concessions apply. Car parking is free. For full details, please visit here