The 2014 Volvo Golf Champions will yet again boast a strong South African contingent when the tournament returns to Durban Country Club from January 9-12.
With 17 nationalities currently represented on the entry list, South Africa’s global strength in golf is highlighted by the presence of eight tournament winners, including 2011 Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel, who won the Alfred Dunhill Championship last month, and six-time European Tour winner Richard Sterne.
The pair have added their names to the mix, joining defending champion Louis Oosthuizen, 2012 winner Branden Grace and Darren Fichardt, Dawie Ven der Walt and Thomas Aitken.
Schwartzel said: “I am excited to open my season in front of my home fans and to be competing against such a strong field of champions. It is pretty impressive to have so many South Africans qualifying and with the two past winners also being South African, it is definitely a title I would love to win.”
Four-time Major Champion Ernie Els withdrew from the tournament, and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, on Thursday to spend time with his family.
While the South Africans golfers look to seal a winning start to the year, the Europeans have an added agenda. With a US$4million prizefund on offer to the limited-qualifying field, the Volvo Golf Champions is an important event in the race to qualify for The 2014 Ryder Cup team.
The likes of Englishman Paul Casey, who won the 2010 Volvo Golf Champions, Spaniards Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Miguel Angel Jiménez, Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and Dane Thomas Björn will all be looking for good performances in Durban.
Other notable names in the field include Italian Matteo Manassero, American Peter Uihlein and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Per Ericsson, President of Volvo Event Management, said: "We are going to have a great group of The European Tour’s best golfers gathered at the fantastic Durban Country Club. The event also creates the perfect link to our client golf as we also host the World Final of the Volvo World Golf Challenge at the same time, where our customers have the chance to qualify for a once in a lifetime opportunity of teaming up with the stars during the Friday of the Championship in Playing with the Pros.”
Guy Kinnings, Global Head of Golf, IMG, the tournament’s co-owners, said: “The strength of South African golf is really illustrated by the number of great South African champions who have qualified for this season-opening event of 2013 champions. They join a great field of European and international champions with some of the Tour’s most exciting young stars and Europe’s most prolific winners. It should be a fantastic week of golf with plenty for the home crowds to cheer about.”
The Championship is returning for the second consecutive year to the Province of KwaZulu-Natal and to the magnificent Durban Country Club. The Championship is being supported by the Provincial Government’s Department for Economic Develop and Tourism, who began a relationship with the Event in 2013 having understood the tourism and business benefits of hosting the Tournament in the Province.
The same week, the World Final of the Volvo World Golf Challenge – Volvo’s global tournament for customers – will be contested in Durban. The World Finalists qualified through local and national tournaments in 38 countries around the world. In what is a genuine ‘money can’t buy’ experience, the top finishers from the World Final get the chance to play together with the stars of The European Tour on the Friday of the Volvo Golf Champions, live on television, in front of a worldwide audience of millions. It’s called ‘Playing with the Pros’ – an opportunity that exists nowhere else in golf.
Only European Tour players who have won an event on the previous year’s International Schedule and current Tour Members with more than ten European Tour victories qualify for the Championship.
For more information, please visit www.volvoingolf.com