Volvo bringing back World Match Play

The World Match Play championship has been put back on the European Tour’s playing schedule next year.

The World Match Play championship has been put back on the European Tour’s playing schedule next year.

For long known as the HSBC World Match Play championship when it was played at Wentworth in southern England, it will now be known as the Volvo World Match play Championship and will be played from May 19 to May 22 in 2011 at the Finca Cortesin Hotel Golf and Spa on the scenic Andalucian coast in Southern Spain.

The 2009 Volvo World Match Play Championship was hailed as a big success because of the changes made in qualification and format and also because the new blue chip venue of Finca Cortesin was warmly embraced by players, media and spectators alike.

But securing a new permanent date for the Championship has been at the very heart of it’s confirmation as a permanent fixture again and although it won’t be played this year, this has now been achieved in the long term.

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 with it the world’s best players who will now be able to include the Volvo Match Play in their schedules knowing it will not conflicts with any other top-level event

As well as the new date, Volvo and partners IMG today announce further improvements that will ensure that the Championship continues to build on its status as a world class event.

The field will be increased, the prize fund raised qualification criteria have been refined. However, the key characteristics of the Championship, including the ultimate thrill of match play golf, will continue as before.

The old 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 to 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 it’s position on the world stage.

“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.”

Ross Fisher, 2009 Volvo World Match Play Champion, concluded, “Winning this prestigious title was a very important achievement for me, especially having grown up watching so many great players win this event over the years. I thoroughly enjoy match play and as I am working to qualify for the 2010 Ryder Cup this year, I hope that winning such a prestigious match play tournament against such a strong field might have impressed our European Captain, Colin Montgomerie, who was at Finca Cortesin watching the Championship last year.”