It was announced today that the Volvo Golf Champions will not take place at the Royal Golf Club, Kingdom of Bahrain in 2012, but that Bahrain will remain on the roster of venues for future tournaments.
The decision was taken after extensive and thorough consideration and discussion between Volvo, IMG, the European Tour, player representatives, the government of Bahrain and the Royal Golf Club. In making the decision, Volvo and IMG recognised the efforts being made by the government of Bahrain to return long-term stability to Bahrain following events earlier this year. However, with work still ongoing to resolve issues in Bahrain and the need to confirm the venue by the end of July 2011, the difficult decision to postpone the event for 2012 was taken.
The inaugural Volvo Golf Champions, won by World Number 13, Paul Casey, was a resounding success with many of the world’s best players in the field, between them boasting over 300 European Tour titles – including eight ‘Majors,’ and the winners of 27 PGA Tour titles.
Volvo and IMG has now decided that the Volvo Golf Champions will rotate between a very few select world-class venues, including The Royal Golf Club, Bahrain, with the other venues to be announced in the future; thus stating their intention to return to Bahrain in the future.
Per Ericsson, President, Volvo Event Management, Golf said: “It is with genuine regret that we are making this announcement after such a wonderful inaugural event in January. The support of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa and the Bahrain Economic Development Board helped make the first European Tour event there a huge success enjoyed by the players, spectators, our customers and millions of viewers all around the world. No one should doubt the respect we have for Bahrain.”
Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board said: “Bahrain is making significant strides in resolving issues that emerged in February and March, but we respect that a decision needed to be made now regarding the venue for next year’s event. The Volvo Golf Champions tournament in January was an unqualified success and we look forward to welcoming the European Tour back to Bahrain in the near future. We are grateful for Volvo and IMG’s continued support.”
Ericsson continued, “We have heeded corporate advice in making this decision. We do not feel Bahrain can host a tournament of this magnitude while the international perception of Bahrain is as it is.”
”Guy Kinnings, Global Managing Director of IMG Golf, added, “This is not a decision we took lightly given that the 2011 tournament exceeded every expectation. We are thankful to His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Bahrain Economic Development Board, and the staff, Board and Members at the Royal Golf Club for all they did to support the event in January and we look forward to returning to the fabulous Colin Montgomerie designed course soon. While we have yet to confirm the destination for the 2012 Volvo Golf Champions it will certainly be outside the Middle East as Bahrain is intended to be the home of the Volvo Golf Champions in that region.”
George O’Grady of the European Tour added, “While this is an unfortunate announcement to have to make after such an impressive first edition of the Volvo Golf Champions, so professionally hosted by Bahrain at the Royal Golf Club, we know that Bahrain is working hard to address the issues it has faced in recent months, as well as to reach out to the international community, and we, together with the European Tour players, look forward to returning and building on that first, very successful, event in the future.”
Susan Stevenson, General Manager at The Royal Golf Club, concluded, “It was a real honour to host the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions earlier this year and The Board, Executive Management Team and the Members of The Royal Golf Club thoroughly enjoyed the experience and working with Volvo and IMG. It was fantastic for the Club and Bahrain to host an international golf Championship and we look forward to working with Volvo and IMG to ensure that the Tournament returns to Bahrain as soon as possible.”