Friday, 19 March 2010
Andrew Oldcorn, fighting against a stomach upset, will attempt to successfully defend his Volvo PGA Championship crown at Wentworth Club this week and keep the flagship title of The European Tour International Schedule in Scottish hands for the fifth consecutive year.

Oldcorn felt unwell during 18 holes of practice on Tuesday afternoon and sought medical attention after taking ill. He admitted to feeling "under the weather" on Wednesday and curtailed his preparation to some work on the range.

He said: "I am resting as much as possible. I want to do myself justice in my defence of the title".

Colin Montgomerie was the proud holder of the Championship from 1998 to 2000 before Oldcorn produced the performance of his life over the West Course 12 months ago to succeed him, successfully holding off the challenge of Angel Cabrera and Nick Faldo to win by two strokes.

At the conclusion of an absorbing week of international competition, played in front of record, shirt-sleeved galleries, Oldcorn declared: "I think my victory is a testament to the strength in depth of The European Tour. A lot of guys can play on this Tour and I hope this win provides inspiration to a lot of other players."

Although narrowly missing out on a place in Europe's Ryder Cup team, Oldcorn bounced back this year, a seventh place finish in the Dubai Desert Classic helping him into the Great Britain and Ireland team for last month's The Seve Trophy, where he finished unbeaten as GB&I won 14 ½ - 11 ½.

Montgomerie was also in the wars on Wednesday. He visited a chiropractor and osteopath and goes into the event without the benefit of a practice round.

As befits the stature of the Volvo PGA Championship, once again a high-quality, elite field of 150 competitors has assembled on the West Course, all vying for a share of the £2 million prize fund.

Seventeen of the current top 20 in the Volvo Order of Merit will tee up, led by current leader and last year's Harry Vardon Trophy winner, Retief Goosen. The 33 year old South African has already won on both The European Tour and the US PGA Tour this year - the Johnnie Walker Classic and the BellSouth Classic - and will be keen to improve on his best showing at Wentworth Club, namely fourth in 1999.

Also in action in front of the huge galleries who always throng to this delightful part of Surrey are nine of the European Ryder Cup team, Thomas Björn, Darren Clarke, Niclas Fasth, Pierre Fulke, Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley, Montgomerie, Phillip Price and Lee Westwood, alongside Captain Sam Torrance and Vice Captain Ian Woosnam, who showed his liking for the West Course last October when he won the Cisco World Match Play Championship.

All the competitors will notice a number of alterations have been made to the course as part of a process that has been on-going for the past ten years.

Players will notice the first change as soon as they step on the first tee as the whole area has been redesigned and landscaped. The teeing area for the Championship tee has been increased by almost 100 square metres and, importantly, the back tee has been increased in depth by three metres, thereby offering more tee positions. The tee has been realigned and the surrounding area reshaped.

The 13th tee has also been rebuilt and realigned and a new Championship tee built, increasing the length of the hole by 25 yards to 467 yards. The fairway bunker on the right side has also been enlarged, and at 254 yards from the tee is very much in play.

The 15th hole was lengthened two years ago, but two more bunkers have been added to the left side of the fairway, in addition to the existing one, to catch any wayward drives. There is now sand on the left hand side between 230 and 300 yards from the tee.

An additional fairway bunker has been installed on the 16th hole, sited nine yards beyond the existing bunker on the left hand side. The two bunkers now range from 254 yards to 270 yards from the tee.

Chris Kennedy, Golf Courses Manager at Wentworth Club, said: "We have made the changes to keep the test presented by the West Course up to speed with modern equipment. Throughout the process of updating the course we have endeavoured to keep Harry Colt's masterpiece, with no changes to the original routing plan, in line with the modern era. We have had to tighten up the examination paper to get the course back to where it was.

"A lot of the bunkering was outdated for the majority of professionals. By replacing them at strategic distances we have brought them back into play. For example, at the 13th some professionals were hitting nine irons and wedges into the green. By moving the tee back 25 yards the fairway bunker is now in play and players will have to think about either going for the big drive or laying up. That is the way Colt designed the course.

"At the 15th we watched where players balls were landing and have placed bunkers where they are in play. The old bunker has remained untouched for the amateurs."

All the work has been carried out by Kennedy and his team at Wentworth Club in consultation with Bernard Gallacher and other Tour Members who have played in the Volvo PGA Championship and the Cisco World Match Play Championship and European Tour Officials.

David Garland, Director of Tour Operations, said: "The European Tour welcomes the most recent changes to the West Course which have been ongoing over the last few years and result in the West Course maintaining its reputation and position as a tough but fair test of Championship golf."

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Pos Player nameNatHolePar
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2MARTIN, Miguel AngelESP18Par
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T5FALDO, Sir NickENG18-12
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