Six players from the 2014 European Ryder Cup team have qualified for the Volvo World Match Play Championship on the International Course at the London Golf Club, Kent, England, from October 15 to 19. (picture by Getty Images)
Defending Champion Graeme McDowell and reigning Race to Dubai Champion Henrik Stenson headline a field which includes 2014 Ryder Cup teammates, Thomas Björn, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher. Additional qualified players are 2013 Runner-up, Thongchai Jaidee, 2014 Volvo China Open Champion, Alexander Levy, three-time European Tour winner, Joost Luiten, two-time European Tour winner, Shane Lowry and 2014 Irish Open winner, Mikko Ilonen.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary since the inaugural Championship, won by Arnold Palmer at Wentworth in 1964, the 16-man field is taking shape as the players look to build on their successful seasons by taking home the €650,000 first prize as they compete for a total prize fund of €2.25m.
The field will be split into four groups of four in the group stages before the leading two players per group proceed to the knock out phase to be played over the weekend. The 2014 Tournament will now be played over five days starting on Wednesday with the remainder of the field to be announced shortly.
The 2013 Champion Graeme McDowell said, “I am really excited about defending my title in England in October at the London Golf Club. I love the match play format and it certainly seems to bring out some of my best golf so this is a tournament and a title I have been looking forward to defending all year.”
Stephen Gallacher, whose well documented journey to qualify for his home Ryder Cup has seen him play world-class golf all year commented, “I’m delighted to qualify for the 2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship. My focus right now is on making my debut in the Ryder Cup and contributing all I can to our team’s efforts to retain the Ryder Cup. Then, I will be turning my full attention to the London Golf Club which will need a very different mindset as I’ll no doubt be up against a number of my teammates. It is going to be an exciting couple of months.”
Per Ericsson, President of Volvo Event Management, said, “We are thrilled to be returning this great Championship to England, where we staged our last PGA Championship in 2004. The UK is an important market for Volvo and we are looking forward to hosting many valued customers at the London Golf Club. Among other things on the business programme, the UK launch of Volvo Car’s all-new XC90 will take place at the event which is very exciting.”
Guy Kinnings, Global Head of Golf, IMG, the tournament’s owners, added, “The World Match Play Championship, founded in 1964, is IMG’s longest running event and it is very special to us. We are delighted to be back in England next month for the 50th anniversary of the tournament and with six of the 2014 European Ryder Cup team in the field, we are expecting great support from the crowds. Our thanks go to the London Golf Club for all their hard work and enthusiasm in the buildup to ensure everything is in place for a great Championship.”
George O’Grady CBE, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “Already a tournament with a great tradition on The European Tour, we look forward to the Volvo World Match Play Championship adding a new chapter to its rich history in this, its 50th year, when it is played for the first time at The London Golf Club next month. The International Course will provide a fitting match play test for the world’s best – led by our reigning Race to Dubai champion Henrik Stenson and defending champion Graeme McDowell, plus four of their colleagues from the European Ryder Cup team who will be at Gleneagles next week. We are delighted that another venue from our European Tour Destinations portfolio features on the 2014 schedule and eagerly await a tournament which, staged alongside our long-standing partners Volvo and IMG, promises to be a superb occasion.”
Charles Fairweather, Chairman of the London Golf Club said “With less than a month to go until we host the prestigious Volvo World Match Play Championship, we are extremely excited to see how the field is taking shape and are looking forward to see how the players handle The International Course. We have enjoyed working with Volvo, IMG and the European Tour during the lead up to the event and hope to deliver a memorable Championship.”
The Championship, begun by Mark McCormack and IMG in 1964 and organised together with Volvo since 2009, will generate worldwide media coverage, with over 2,000 hours of golf broadcast to half a billion households, has evolved considerably since moving from Wentworth in 2009, successfully securing a world-class field by qualification on merit and revising the format. Last year the Championship was the first full European Tour event to be played in Bulgaria at Thracian Cliffs with the three previous editions held at Finca Cortesín in Spain.