José Maria Olazábal will return to Wentworth Club next month when, a decade after his first victory, he will be seeking a second Volvo PGA Championship and a title he covets more than any other outside the Major Championships.
Olazábal forms part of a strong Spanish quartet this year, joining two-time Volvo PGA Champion and six-time Volvo Order of Merit winner Seve Ballesteros, defending champion Ignacio Garrido and Miguel Angel Jiménez, the current Number Two in the Volvo Order of Merit, over the famous West Course from May 27-30.
Fiji’s Vijay Singh, South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, Australian Adam Scott, Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke, England’s Paul Casey and Denmark’s Thomas Björn, all currently in the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking, will also tee up in the 50th anniversary edition chasing a record €635,000 first prize from the €3,750,000 prize fund.
Olazábal, who followed his 1994 Masters Tournament win by 51 days later capturing the Volvo PGA Championship ahead of Els and Bernhard Langer with Jiménez tied fourth and Ballesteros sixth, said: “I’m delighted to be returning to Wentworth with such a great field assembled for this Volvo PGA Championship. To win the Volvo PGA five weeks after the Masters was the icing on the cake in 1994. If I had to choose any title outside the Majors, this is the one to win.”
In 1983 Ballesteros arrived after winning a second Masters Tournament and won the Volvo PGA Championship from Ken Brown and Sandy Lyle. Eight years later, by which time he had also won three Open Championships, he claimed the title again ahead of another Scot, Colin Montgomerie.
“Winning two Volvo PGA Championships rank highly amongst my career achievements. Wentworth Club is one of my favourite courses and I hope to play, but I will have to see how my back feels then,” said Ballesteros.
Garrido became the fourth Spanish winner of The European Tour’s flagship event – Manuel Piñero was the first in 1977 – when he overcame South African Trevor Immelman at the first extra hole last year, but he has some way to go to overhaul Olazabal’s proud record of having played all four rounds in all 16 Volvo PGA Championships in which he has competed.
“Last year's victory was very important to me,” said Garrido. “Winning on a course that has so many good memories to me since the time I caddied for my father and winning such a prestigious event, was much more than I expected. I was in the middle of changing my swing but I played four very good rounds to tie Trevor, and beat him in the play-off. I am now looking forward to defending the title.”
Jiménez, winner of the Johnnie Walker Classic and the Algarve Open de Portugal Caixa Geral de Depositos on The 2004 European Tour International Schedule, won the 1999 Volvo Masters Andalucia and a victory in the Volvo PGA Championship would enhance his bid to win the Volvo Order of Merit for the first time.
"The Volvo PGA is our tournament, the professionals' tournament and it is one of the most important events for us,” said Jiménez. “Obviously, you want to arrive at Wentworth in very good form. It is an interesting golf course where you have to use all the clubs in your bag, but the main thing is to have the game in good shape. I'd love to do well in such a good event and such a good course.”
Once again, BBC Television will supply live coverage of all the drama as it unfolds over the West Course, and anyone wishing to attend can call the ticket hotline on +44 1782 741 956 to book your place in advance or visit www.europeantour.com for more information on the Championship.