The 2014 Volvo Golf Champions takes place this week at the Durban Country Club, South Africa with 36 of The European Tour's leading golfers competing for a US$4million prize fund and a first prize of $700,000.
The players started arriving in Durban this weekend to get ready for the year-opening European Tour’s Tournament of Champions, taking advantage of the beautiful weather in preparation for the tournament proper from the 9th to 12th January 2014.
Three-time Major winner Pádraig Harrington, the most prolific Major winner in the tournament, has already been out on the course and declared, “The course is in perfect condition.”
The golfers will play practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday before playing in the Pro Am on Wednesday alongside Volvo and the tournament’s guests and a host of South Africa’s sport stars. Amateurs confirmed include Kyle Abbot, Daryn Smit, Odwa Ndungane, John Smit, Shaun Pollock, Charl McCleod, John van der Ruit and Matt Pearce.
Pollock commented, “It is fantastic to have a tournament of this nature in Durban. It will be a real privilege to play alongside the world’s best golfers on a championship course. I know I will be a touch nervous on that first tee as I don’t know my swing as well as my bowling action. I am looking forward to it and hopefully our four ball can put in a decent performance.”
There are 18 nationalities represented on the entry list with South Africa boasting the highest number of players. The seven South African stars include defending Champion and winner of the 2010 Open Championship, Louis Oosthuizen, 2011 Masters Champion and recent winner of the Alfred Dunhill Championship Charl Schwartzel, 2012 Champion Branden Grace, Darren Fichardt, Dawie Ven der Walt, Thomas Aiken and six-time European Tour winner Richard Sterne.
Between them the field has won 228 European Tour titles and showing the power of home support, of the 33 European Tour events the South African players in the field have won, 18 of the wins occurred on South African soil. Colin Montgomerie boasts the highest number of European Tour wins, his 33 titles matching the cummlative tally of the South African players in the field
Eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner, Colin Montgomerie is the oldest player in the field at 50 years of age and Miguel Ángel Jiménez the second oldest player in the field, turning 50 yesterday, while four-time European Tour winner, Matteo Manassero, is the youngest player in the field at 20 years of age and Tommy Fleetwood the second youngest at 22 years of age.
All three past winners of the Volvo Golf Champions will be in the field; 2011 Champion Paul Casey, 2012 Champion Branden Grace and 2013 Champion Louis Oosthuizen. Casey will be eager to reclaim a spot on Europe’s Ryder Cup team after returning to top form after various injuries with an impressive win at the 2013 Irish Open.
Three players who won their final events of 2013 arrive looking to start the year as they left off. Crowd favourite Miguel Ángel Jiménez, retained his Hong Kong Open title extending his own record as The European Tour’s oldest winner. Thomas Björn, who boosted his 2014 Ryder Cup campaign winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge and South Africa’s own Dawie Van der Walt who won the final European Tour event of 2013 at The Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa.
The Championship is back for the second consecutive year in 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.
Also this week in Durban is the World Final of the Volvo World Golf Challenge – Volvo’s global tournament for customers. The World Finalists qualified through local and national tournaments in almost 50 Volvo markets 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.
For more information, please visit www.volvoingolf.com