Winner: Ian Woosnam
67-70-70-67 = 274
First Prize: £50,000
The Volvo story began with an historic handshake on the afternoon of Monday May 25, 1987, between Ken Schofield, Executive Director of the European Tour, and Carleric Häggström, then Executive Vice-President of the Volvo Car Corporation, followed by the first important chapter at Wentworth Club some twelve months later when Ian Woosnam captured the Volvo PGA Championship.
Volvo’s arrival as the Tour’s first and only corporate sponsor coincided with good times on the fairways as Europe’s leading golfers came to the fore. In 1985 Sandy Lyle had become the first British winner of the Open Championship since Tony Jacklin (1969), and early in 1988 he had followed in the footsteps of Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer by winning the Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
The cream of European golf was rising to the top, week after week, and ample evidence of that came with the unfolding of the first PGA Championship to benefit from Volvo’s superb and committed sponsorship.
For not only did Woosnam, the European Tour’s number one golfer in 1987, triumph, but he was followed home by Seve Ballesteros and Mark James, who tied for second place, Roger Chapman, Mark McNulty, Jeff Hawkes, John Bland, Langer, Lyle, Faldo, José Maria Cañizares and José Maria Olazábal, on a truly international leader-board
Ballesteros, who less than two months later would win the Open Championship for the third time, took over the lead on Bank Holiday Sunday - one ahead of Langer, McNulty and Woosnam. Earlier that year, with his swing a fraction askew, Woosnam had practised harder than ever, and the benefit was for all to see at Wentworth as he compiled a superb closing 67 to put two shots between himself and Ballesteros and James.
With that Volvo’s sponsorship of European Tour golf began and Carleric Häggström clearly outlined the company’s desire to grow the partnership. “Golf is a family sport,” he said. “We sell prestigious cars. Golf is also a very social sport. Wherever you go you will always find a golfing partner willing to make friends. Volvo’s best marketing tool is satisfied Volvo owners telling others about their experiences. The game of golf has fine values which we think is well in line with our company’s philosophy. Another reason for selecting the European Tour is their professionalism as demonstrated by their creation of a truly European tour. It takes a lot of skill to unite so many national Federations and interests.”