Oosthuizen relishes Volvo move

Louis Oosthuizen, Matteo Manassero and Tom Lewis have joined the glittering field at the Volvo Golf Champions.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open Champion, and young guns Matteo Manassero and Tom Lewis, have joined the glittering field for the Volvo Golf Champions first visit to South Africa.

So too has Tour veteran, Colin Montgomerie, whose more than 10 career Tour victories makes him eligible to play in the event.

The tournament, the European Tour’s first-ever, true tournament of Champions which has been moved from Bahrain to the Gary Player-designed Links course at Fancourt in South Africa’s Western Cape because of the middle eastern country’s recent involvement in the Arab Spring, is set to tee-off on January 19.

Oosthuizen and co will join defending champion Paul Casey, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, two-time Major winner Retief Goosen, and this year’s three-time winner on the 2011 European Tour, Thomas Bjørn in competing for a €350,000 (Approx. ZAR3.5million) first prize and a prize fund of €2million (Approx. ZAR20million).

Oosthuizen, winner of the 2010 Open Championship, should, along with Goosen and Schwartzel, provide a strong home challenge to what will certainly be the strongest parade of European Tours stars ever to invade South Africa

Oosthuizen, whose home course, the Mossel Bay Golf Club, is only 40km down the coast from Fancourt, and whose early years were spent at the Ernie Els Foundation which is based at Fancourt, is relishing the chance of playing in one of the European Tour’s most important and lucrative events in the place where he cut his golfing teeth.

“It’s a real honour to have the event in the Western Cape and of course all the South African boys will be going all out to win it

“If I were to do it, it would be the closest (professional) win I have ever had to home,”

With the field not yet complete, it already contains a delightful mix of experience and exuberance with, for example, forty-something Montgomerie boasting 32 European Tour titles while 18-year-old Italian Manassero has already notched up two wins since turning professional last year, and 20-year old Englishman Lewis having already burst into the Tour headlines by winning in only his third event as a professional at the Portugal Masters last month.

Montgomerie, an eight-time winner of the European Tour’s Order of Merit, said, “I have had a disappointing year on the golf course and so I am hoping at make a strong start to the 2012 season at the Volvo Golf Champions.”

Casey, in the meantime, will be looking to the defence of his title with glowing memories.

He said, “I had a great time at the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions in January.

“I liked the added format whereby Darren Clarke and I were paired with one of Volvo’s customers, English amateur Kevin Aherne, for one day and, after a most enjoyable and relaxing round, we won the Volvo Golf Champions Amateur Pro Team Competition, with Darren and I each winning a Volvo S60!

“Even more importantly I ended the week by claiming the victory (in the Volvo Golf Champions itself).”

“So I’m looking forward to defending my title against a field of 2011 European Tour champions at Fancourt in January.

“The European Tour is in excellent health. Many of our players leading the world rankings and a really exciting crop of young players such as Tom and Matteo are coming through and have already posted some very impressive wins.

“It is definitely going to be a tough week and a great showcase for European golf.” Casey said.

The Volvo Golf Champions is an exclusive, limited field event with no cut, open only to European Tour players who have won an event on the previous year’s European Tour International Schedule, the only exception being current Tour Members like Montgomerie, who have won more than ten times on the European Tour.

An unprecedented gathering of global golfing talent is expected to line up at world-acclaimed The Links at Fancourt, very recently voted the number one course in the country.

For full eligibility criteria and more information please visit www.volvoingolf.com.