The Volvo World Match Play Championship is set for a new date in May each year. In 2011 it will be held 19 to 22 May at Finca Cortesin Hotel, Golf and Spa on the magnificent Andalucian coast in Southern Spain.
The 2009 Volvo World Match Play Championship was hailed a huge success as changes in qualification and format were widely acclaimed and the new blue chip venue of Finca Cortesin was warmly embraced by players, media and spectators alike.
Securing a new permanent date for the Championship has been at the very heart of the new announcement. With the global schedule becoming ever more congested in the autumn months with existing tournaments and the addition of new events in Europe and Asia, Volvo and IMG have worked together with the European Tour and, crucially, the players, to ensure that this world class event is given the date it properly deserves.
The new permanent May date for the Championship is secured under a four year agreement with the European Tour (2011-2014) and ensures the Volvo World Match Play Championship is guaranteed the Spanish sunshine and that the world’s best players are able to include the Volvo World Match Play Championship in their schedules; and crucially, the aim is that the Volvo World Match Play Championship will now be the sole dominant European Tour event played in the new date.
As well as a new date, Volvo and partners IMG today announce further improvements that will ensure that the Championship build on its status as a world class event, including an increased field size, increased prize fund and a refined qualification criteria. However, the key characteristics of the Championship, including the ultimate thrill of match play golf, will continue as before.
The 16 man field will be increased to allow 24 of the world’s best players to compete for this coveted title and the qualification process, so successful in gathering one of the highest quality international fields on the European Tour in 2009, has been modified to accommodate the increase.
In keeping with its world class status the prize fund for the 2011 Championship increases to €3.4 million with a first prize of €800,000, the highest on the European Tour outside of the Majors, World Golf Championship events and the Dubai World Golf Championship.
Per Ericsson, President & CEO of Volvo Event Management Golf, explained, “Innovation is a watchword at Volvo and while we were delighted with the success of the 2009 edition, we are very excited about the way we have worked with our partners, Finca Cortesin, IMG, The European Tour to continue to evolve and grow this great event. At each tournament we aim to learn and improve for the next edition. The round robin groups last year were a great success and we think the extended field and the eight groups of 3 will lead to even more excitement and a clearer understanding for the players and spectators as to who will emerge the group winners.”
He continued, “We changed the qualification criteria ahead of the 2009 Championship because we wanted to make the event even more international and we feel it worked wonderfully and were thrilled with the field gathered in 2009. Extending the field to 24 players has enabled us to build on this ethos and we are confident that the 2011 Championship will deliver a larger group of the World’s leading golfers of the same excellent quality while spectators will see their favourites playing a larger number of nail-biting matches.
“This is a world class tournament and we took our time to agree the new date going forward after studying all the relevant Tour’s Schedules to ensure our tournament is THE one to play that week. I look forward to watching our worthy 2009 Champion Ross Fisher return to defend his title against what we believe will another stellar field.”
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, added, “I am delighted we have been able to work with Volvo and IMG to find this new date in the schedule where the Volvo World Match Play Championship will fit so well going forward. It is one of the oldest events on our Tour and very fitting that one of our longest serving sponsors, has secured its future and worked so hard to continue to develop the tournament.”
Guy Kinnings, Director of IMG Golf, EMEA, commented, “We are very happy that our partnership with Volvo, along with Finca Cortesin and the European Tour has allowed us to reach this point. We have successfully worked together to both secure the future of this great Tournament and enhance its position on the world stage.”
He continued, “Since the first World Match Play Championship in 1964, it has been played a vital role in IMG’s portfolio of events and we feel very proud to have successfully preserved the heritage and special nature of this Championship while continuing to improve and enhance one of the most popular tournaments on The European Tour. Last year’s move to Spain after 44 wonderful events at The Wentworth Club was an overriding success and we are pleased to work with our partners to continue to evolve The Championship by improving the qualification criteria, field size and format and we are confident that the tournament will go from strength to strength.”
Vicente Rubio, Director General Finca Cortesin added, “The 2009 Championship was a very successful experience for us as we hosted our first European Tour event. The course proved to be the perfect stage for many of the world’s best players to go head-to-head and we were thrilled with their positive reaction to our golf course and feedback with regards to our hotel facilities. We are already looking forward to next year’s tournament and are delighted with the new permanent May date.”
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