Champions gather in South Africa

1/6/2014 10:16:00 AM
Louis Oosthuizen   (Getty Images)
Louis Oosthuizen (Getty Images)

The 2014 Race to Dubai resumes this week after the festive break with The European Tour returning to South Africa with many of the winners from the past 12 months gathering in Durban for the Volvo Golf Champions.
A New Year begins with the fourth edition of the tournament – and second consecutive staging at Durban Country Club – carrying an increased prize fund of US$4million, up more than 50 per cent.

The 36 man field  includes 31 winners from The 2013 and 2014 Race to Dubai from 17 different countries, as well as five players who have won more than ten times on The European Tour and home favourite Branden Grace, who qualifies under the past champions category having won the tournament in 2012. The 36 players have amassed 228 European Tour titles between them. 

Grace will be trying to regain the title from compatriot Louis Oosthuizen, the former Open Champion, who overhauled Scotland’s Scott Jamieson with a superb final round of 66, 12 months ago.

It was Oosthuizen’s sixth European Tour title and the current World Number 34 is again part of a strong home challenge, alongside former Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel, the winner of the Alfred Dunhill Championship last month, and Dawie Van der Walt, who triumphed in the last tournament before the break, the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa, which also took place in Durban, at Mount Edgecombe.

They will face a strong international contingent, including the three other winners so far on The 2014 Race to Dubai, Danish pair Morten Ørum Madsen and Thomas Björn, and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez.

It will be a particularly poignant event for Jiménez plays his first event as a 50 year old having celebrated his landmark birthday on Sunday.

The Ryder Cup player extended his record as the oldest winner in European Tour history by claiming the Hong Kong Open last month, and he will be seeking another piece of history this week as he attempts to become the first player beyond the age of 50 to triumph on the Tour.