Ryder Cup heroes look to challenge SA dominance at Volvo Golf Champions

The Volvo Golf Champions today announced both a prize fund of €2 million (approx. R22.5 million) as a host of Ryder Cup heroes confirm their participation in the third edition of the Volvo Golf Champions, taking place at the Durban Country Club from the 10th to the 13th January 2013.

Branden Grace is the defending champion and a four-time winner on the European Tour this year.

A strong Ryder Cup flavour dominates the early entrants of the Volvo Golf Champions with winning 2010 and 2012 Captains, Colin Montgomerie and José María Olazábal qualifying as current Tour Members with more than ten European Tour victories along with the 2012 Vice Captain and 13-time winner on the European Tour, Thomas Björn. All are looking to use their experience to reignite their playing careers with a return to winning form at the famous Durban Country Club.
Nicolas Colsaerts, Paul Lawrie and Francesco Molinari, who all played a vital role in the winning 2012 Ryder Cup team at Medinah, will be aiming to build on their 2012 success with an early win in 2013 but the Europeans will face a tough task in the form of a formidable home challenge. They are joined by the European Tour’s most recent winner, Peter Hanson, who held of a spirited challenge from Rory McIlroy to win in Shanghai at the weekend.
In January, six South Africans finished in the top ten of the 2012 Volvo Golf Champions and, once again, the home contingent will be very strong. The 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen has confirmed his entry having won twice in 2012 in South Africa and Malaysia. He joins South Africa’s rising star, Branden Grace, the defending champion and a four-time winner on the European Tour this year and two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen to head the list of home favourites.
Ryder Cup ‘Rookie; Colsaerts seems to have the magic touch at Volvo events having won the 2011 Volvo China Open and the 2012 Volvo World Match Play Championship. He commented, “Volvo has been very good to me with my first two wins coming at their events. It would be very neat if I could add this third Volvo tournament title to my C.V. and the most amazing way to start off the year.”
Former Ryder Cup star and past champion Paul Casey has had his fair share of injuries in recent years but hopes to start 2013 fully fit and ready to return to the top form which has seen him win 11 titles on The European Tour. Casey added, “Having hurt my shoulder last winter I was very disappointed to miss out on defending my 2011 Volvo Golf Champions title. I can’t wait for the new season to begin as I am starting to find my form again. I will keep working hard to ensure I arrive in South Africa for the 2013 season with my game in the best possible shape….and, more importantly, injury free!” 
Per Ericsson, President of Volvo Event Management said, “We are still a few months out from the Volvo Golf Champions and this is a great list of players to have already been able to announce. There is so much to look forward to as we look to progress this great tournament with the support of IMG and our new partners, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, the Department for Sport and Recreation and the Department for Tourism and, of course, the Durban Country Club.”

Ericsson continued, “We can also confirm that the world final of our global customer tournament, the Volvo World Golf Challenge, will take place in the same week, with the top finishers ‘Playing with the Pros’ on Friday at the Volvo Golf Champions.”
Guy Kinnings, Global Co-Managing Director, IMG remarked, “The unique qualification criteria of this tournament guarantee for a very special field. We are confident that we will have a selection of great players gathering at this beautiful venue to showcase some of the many wonderful attributes KwaZulu-Natal Province has to offer. As you will see from the early names we have announced here today, there is already a wonderful blend of experience and youth represented. Seeing Ernie and Retief go up against the might of the next generation of South African stars lead by Branden was one of the highlights of this year and reuniting the victorious Ryder Cup Captain with his successful rookie selection, Nicolas Colsaerts could be an intriguing pairing.”
George O’Grady CBE, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “The Volvo Golf Champions should make for a terrific start to 2013 and already, with this list of European Tour Champions, the field is shaping up well. While Volvo is our longest-serving partner and this will mark their 78th European Tour event, we are also delighted to be working with new partners, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government and South African Government. We also thank the Sunshine Tour for their support as we head to the Durban Country Club, another leading course in South Africa where golf, and its golfers, continue to enjoy a rich vein of form.”
The Chairman of the Durban Country Club, Richard Pemberton, added, “We are delighted to have been selected by Volvo and IMG to host the Volvo Golf Champions this year. We are already well underway in our preparations to make sure we provide the perfect stage for the European Tour’s stars to do battle.”
Michael Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government explained, “The interest in the Volvo Golf Champions is growing in the region and we are eagerly anticipating the arrival of so many great players. This tournament is very important to our strategy to grow our tourism offering and we are very pleased with the results so far. We are looking forward to showing off all the province of KwaZulu-Natal has to offer.”
Minister Fikile Mbalula, Minister for Sport and Recreation said, “The hosting of the second Volvo Golf Champions on South African soil, joining the five co-sanctioned events already taking place in our nation, is testimony that South Africa is definitely recognized internationally as a major golf hosting powerhouse. Our golfers have proven over the years that we are indeed globally competitive and ranks amongst the world’s best. The achievements of Branden Grace in the Race to Dubai this year has been unprecedented by any South African and he will surely be a huge attraction at next year’s event when he will be defending his title. The inclusion of our other major winners such as Retief Goosen and Louis Oosthuizen together with other world stars will further lift the stature of the Volvo Golf Champions.”
Deputy Minister of Tourism, South African Government, Tokozile Xasa, added, “All the preparations are going well for the Volvo Golf Champions. Through this tournament, we want to show the world the many wonderful facilities we have to offer visitors from around the world as the event is viewed on television by many millions around the world. We look forward to welcoming home our South African players and to hosting these other great Champions from the European Tour in January.”
The Durban Country Club is a renowned Championship course with an impressive résumé having hosted the South African Open on no less than 17 occasions. It enjoys beautiful vistas overlooking the Indian Ocean and, with its undulating fairways, lush vegetation and sand dunes is considered one of the most unique and challenging courses in the world. It was recently voted one of the Top 100 golf courses in the World by Golf Magazine USA and is undoubtedly a shot maker’s course that players will have to think their way around.
The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government has over 70 golf courses in the region which flourish in this beautiful garden province of South Africa, with its subtropical climate of lush and well-watered valleys, washed by the warm Indian Ocean.

The Volvo World Golf Challenge is Volvo’s global tournament for customers. This year, more than 30 countries are taking part, with 75 players making it all the way to the World Final. The most successful performers amongst the World Finalists get the chance to team up with the stars of the European Tour during the Volvo Golf Champions, live on television, in front of a worldwide audience of millions.

PHOTO CAPTION: South Africa’s Branden Grace will defend his Volvo Golf Champions title at Durban Country Club in January.

2013 Volvo Golf Champions Qualification Update

Category (a): 
Winners of all the fully sanctioned and co-sanctioned tournaments listed below:    
1   Volvo Golf Champions   Branden Grace    
2   Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship   Robert Rock    
3   Commercialbank Qatar Masters   Paul Lawrie    
4   Omega Dubai Desert Classic   Rafael Cabrera-Bello    
5   Avantha Masters   Jbe Kruger    
6   WGC Accenture Match Play Championship   Hunter Mahan    
7   WGC Cadillac Championship   Justin Rose    
8   Open de Andalucia de Golf   Julien Quesne    
9   Trophee Hassan II   Michael Hoey    
10   Sicilian Open   Thorbjorn Olesen    
11   US Masters   Bubba Watson    
12   Maybank Malaysian Open   Louis Oosthuizen    
Volvo China Open   (Branden Grace)    
13   Ballantine’s Championship   Bernd Wiesberger    
14   Reale Seguros Open de Espana   Francesco Molinari    
15   Madeira Islands Open   Ricardo Santos    
16   Volvo World Match Play Championship   Nicolas Colsaerts    
17   BMW PGA Championship   Luke Donald    
18   ISPS Handa Wales Open   Thongchai Jaidee    
19   Nordea Masters   Lee Westwood    
20   US Open   Webb Simpson    
21   Saint-Omer Open presented by Neuflize OBC   Darren Fichardt    
22   BMW International Open   Danny Willett    
23   Irish Open   Jamie Donaldson    
24   Alstom Open de France   Marcel Siem    
25   Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open   Jeev Milkha Singh    
26   The Open   Ernie Els    
Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity   (Bernd Wiesberger)    
27   WGC Bridgestone Invitational   Keegan Bradley    
28   US PGA Championship   Rory McIlroy    
Johnnie Walker Championship   (Paul Lawrie)    
29   Omega European Masters   Richie Ramsay    
30   KLM Open   Peter Hanson    
31   Italian Open   Gonzalo Fdez-Castano    
32   Alfred Dunhill Links Championship   (Branden Grace)    
33   Portugal Masters   Shane Lowry    
34   Perth International   Bo Van Pelt    
35   BMW Masters   (Peter Hanson)    
36   WGC HSBC Champions     
37   Barclays Singapore Open     
38   Hong Kong Open     
39   South African Open     
40   Dubai World Championship     
41   Nelson Mandela Invitational     
42   Alfred Dunhill Championship     
Category (b):     

Past winners of the Volvo Golf Champions under 50 years of age on the first day of the tournament.   
43    Paul Casey    
(Branden Grace)           
Category (c):     
Players with 10 or more official Race to Dubai/European Tour Order of Merit tournament wins under 50* years of age on the first day of the tournament.  (*NB. This age restriction in (c) does not apply to any full European Tour member ranked within 2012 Categories 1-8.).   
44    Colin Montgomerie    
45    Padraig Harrington    
46    Retief Goosen    
47    Darren Clarke    
48    Miguel Angel Jimenez    
49    Ian Poulter    
50    Thomas Bjorn    
51    Robert Karlsson    
52    José Maria Olazabal    
53    Vijay Singh    
54    Martin Kaymer    
55    Sergio Garcia   
For more information please visit www.volvoingolf.com  

About Volvo in Golf
In 1988, Volvo changed the face and fortunes of the European Tour and has been a pioneer in golf for many years, successfully using its high-profile events portfolio to position the premium brand and create sustainable business partnerships with clients passionate about the sport. Thanks to effective media exposure, millions around the world have seen the renowned blue brand on the tees, greens and fairways of the world.

Volvo Event Management is responsible for the in-house planning and management of the global golf sponsorship activity shared by Volvo Car Corporation and Volvo Group. Volvo Event Management is based in Gothenburg, Sweden and has a representative office in Hong Kong. Volvo Event Management currently has a portfolio of four events under its auspices.

European Tour events:
Volvo Golf Champions – a champions only tournament
Volvo China Open – the national open golf championship of China
Volvo World Match Play Championship – professional golf’s most enduring match play event

Tournaments for club golfers:
Volvo World Golf Challenge – one of the most inclusive global golf series in the world targeted to Volvo’s customers, with its World Final staged in conjunction with the Volvo Golf Champions. Volvo’s customers are then offered the golf experience of a lifetime by ‘Playing with the Pros’ during the professional tournament, a completely unique possibility.
Volvo Event Management has been headed by its President, Per Ericsson since June 2008 and has a core in-house staff supported by specialist consultants.

About IMG

IMG Worldwide is a global sports, entertainment and media business, with nearly 3,000 employees operating in 30 countries around the globe. IMG’s areas of expertise are diverse and wide ranging:  IMG College; IMG’s Joint Ventures in China, Brazil and India; IMG Media; IMG Events and Federations; IMG Fashion; IMG Models; IMG Art+Commerce; IMG Clients; IMG Academies; IMG Consulting and IMG Licensing.  More information is available at www.imgworld.com.  Follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/IMG_Worldwide and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/IMGWorldwide

About Durban Country Club
Since its opening in 1922 Durban Country Club’s par-72, 6157 metre course has been considered one of South Africa’s finest. The original design by Laurie Waters and George Waterman continues to compare with the best nearly 90 years later. As a result the Club boasts the unique claim of being the only course on the African continent to be rated in the Top 100 Golf Courses of the World by Golf Magazine (USA).

It’s not surprising that this excellent layout has been chosen to host the South African Open more often than any other courses – a total of 17 times, including the centennial event in 2010. The Club has recently appointed renowned golf course designer, Peter Matkovich, to ensure the course is in championship condition for the Volvo Golf Champions. 

A combination of lush vegetation, sand dunes and stunning views of the Indian Ocean make this course both scenic and challenging. The design includes a pleasant mix of tall trees, thick bush, severe slopes and punishing bunkers, thus providing even the most discerning golfer with a demanding round of golf. It is a shot maker’s course and players are required to think their way around it. Durban Country Club provides the golfer with an opportunity to experience one of the finest and most unique golf courses in existence.

For more information on Durban Country Club please go to www.dcclub.co.za. Follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/DurbanCountryCluband  twitter www.twitter.com/DbnCountryClub

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