Two Major Champions, a Ryder Cup winner and a former Volvo Masters champion are among the first players to qualify and confirm their entry into the 24-man 2011 Volvo World Match Play Championship via the refined qualification criteria.
Major Champions Graeme McDowell and Y E Yang; Ross Fisher, the current defending champion who made a successful Ryder Cup debut as part of Europe’s winning Ryder Cup Team; and 2008 Volvo Masters champion Søren Kjeldsen will all head to the Finca Cortesín in Southern Spain from May 19-22, 2011.
The new qualification criteria has beendevised by Volvo and set to ensure one of the highest quality international fields on the European Tour in 2010.
Next year’s Championship, which will once again feature the successful round robin group format in the early stages, will see the field increased from 16 to 24 players. The field will compete for an increased prize fund of €3.4 million and a first prize of €800,000, one of the highest on The European Tour.
Sunday saw five more world class players seal their places in the 2011 Volvo World Match Play Championship at the 2010 European Tour season finale in Dubai.
Robert Karlsson secured his place as the winner of the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World while 2010 Race to Dubai winner, Martin Kaymer, World Number One, Lee Westwood, World Number Eight, Ian Poulter and winner of the recent WGC-HSBC Champions, Francesco Molinari, claimed their places as the leading four players not otherwise exempt on the final 2010 Race to Dubai Rankings.
Increasing the field from 16 to 24 world class players will ensure only the most in-form, successful international players will win a coveted place at the 2011 Volvo World Match Play Championship. On arrival at Finca Cortesín the players will be divided into eight groups of three players to be played on Thursday and Friday with 16 players progressing to Saturday in a knock-out format with the semis and final played on Sunday.
Ross Fisher, the first player to secure his place in the 2011 field as the defending champion, said: “The list of past winners of the World Match Play Championship reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of world golf and having grown up watching the Championship when it was played at its original Wentworth home, it was a dream come true to actually win it. I love the thrill of match play and I am really looking forward to returning to the beautiful Finca Cortesín to defend my title.”
YE Yang, who became the second man to seal his spot in the field by winning the Volvo China Open, added: “I have never played in the Volvo World Match Play Championship so I am delighted to include it in my schedule for next year. It is a very prestigious tournament with a lot of history and I hear Finca Cortesín is really luxurious and a fantastic match play course. I am excited to make my debut there in May.”
Graeme McDowell and Søren Kjeldsen are the latest to confirm having finished first and second respectively in the Andalucía Valderrama Masters last month.
The Northern Irishman, who won the 2010 US Open Championship at Pebble Beach and secured the winning point for Europe in The Ryder Cup, is currently 11th on the Official World Golf Ranking.
McDowell, whose first European Tour victory was at the 2002 Volvo Scandinavian Masters, said: “I am delighted to have qualified for my first Volvo World Match Play Championship. Fresh from the Ryder Cup I am, of course, already anticipating another match play event with great excitement. As everyone knows, I love match play so this will certainly be one of the highlights on my schedule in 2011.
“I like the idea of the ‘champions league’ style group format seeing how different player’s styles match up against each other and think it is great for the spectators and the players to have this variety on the schedule in the shape of a match play tournament. I am looking forward to my debut in this historic event and also to enjoying the wonderful hospitality on offer at Finca Cortesín which I recently experienced first hand when I stayed there during the Andalucía Valderrama Masters.”
Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen, who qualified following his second place finish at the Andalucía Valderrama Masters, continuing the extraordinary run of success he has enjoyed in Spain including wins at the 2008 Volvo Masters and the 2009 Open de Andalucía de Golf.
Kjeldsen said: “I don’t know what it is but I always seem to play well in Spain, maybe it is the wonderful climate or the great golf facilities but I arrive in Spain and my golf game just seems to go up a notch. This is the first Volvo World Match Play Championship I have qualified for so I am really excited. I won the Volvo Masters just down the road at Valderrama so it would be fantastic to be able to do the Volvo double at Finca Cortesín.”
Per Ericsson, President of Volvo Event Management Golf, added: “This is a great quartet of players and together with the latest qualifiers they represent a fantastic start in our efforts to assemble a world class field that is even better than the all-star 16-man line up we attracted to the 2009 edition of the Volvo World Match Play Championship.”
“We continually strive to improve and enhance the Volvo World Match Play Championship and having taken the bold step to move the event from the UK to Spain last time, we are further improving it by increasing the number of players, and therefore the depth of world class golf on offer, whilst moving to a new, permanent spring date is another big decision that will pay dividends for us.”
“I am sure that everyone who comes to the magnificent Finca Cortesín Golf Club and Hotel next May, players and their families, spectators and members of the media will love the special ambience of a venue fit in every way for champion golfers.”
Guy Kinnings, Managing Director of IMG Golf, EMEA added: ”We were very pleased with the success of the 2009 Volvo World Match Play Championship and are very happy to have such a forward thinking partner as Volvo whereby we continue to work hard together to improve this already great event.”
Vicente Rubio, Managing Director, Finca Cortesín asaid: “Since hosting the Championship in 2009, our very first European Tour event, we have all been eagerly anticipating the return of so many of the world’s class players to our Resort. We had such wonderful feedback with regards to our golf course and hotel facilities after the first Championship and we are working hard to ensure that everything is, once again, in perfect order for us to host our second World Match Play Championship in May.”
To get a complete picture of the fantastic venue and all required info from Volvo and Finca Cortesín, each player who qualifies for the Volvo World Match Play Championship will receive an iPad where all of this can be found.