Finca Cortesin Golf Club on Spain’s Costa del Sol plays host to the Volvo World Match Play Championship this week. Paul Casey makes his long-awaited comeback where he’ll face 15 of the world’s best players.
It’s a new venue and a new format for the tournament that was hosted at Wentworth every year since its inception in 1964. The 16 entrants have been split into four groups in which every player will face each other in a round robin format over day’s one and two. The leading player from each group at the end of Friday’s play will go forward to Saturday’ semi-finals. Those matches, and Sunday’s final, will be contested over 36 holes.
It’s a fascinating line-up in the event with ten of the 16 men in the field making their World Match Play debut. Anthony Kim is the only American entrant and nine of the 16 players hail from Europe.
Casey in the number one seed, though it will be the first time he’s played competitively since suffering a debilitating rib injury. Also continuing his return from injury, Martin Kaymer will have taken great heart from his performance in last week’s Castello Masters where he finished as runner-up.
Lee Westwood is the second seed, Henrik Stenson third and Sergio Garcia fourth. The four top seeds are in different groups and, if things progress to the world rankings, those four would be the semi finalists. The likes of Retief Goosen, Rory McIlroy and Angel Cabrera might have something to say about that however.
Designed by Cabell B Robinson, the course at Finca Cortesin only opened for play in 2006. Overlooking the Mediterranean, it’s set to be a spectacular venue for this prestigious tournament.
Venue: Finca Cortesin GC, Casares, Spain
Date: October 29 – November 1
Course stats: par 72, 7,380 yards
Purse: €3,250,000 Winner: €750,000
Defending Champion: Ernie Els (2007)
Thursday 22 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 9am
Friday 23 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 9am
Saturday 24 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9.30am
Sunday 25 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9.30am
Lee Westwood – A former winner of this tournament, the World number 5 is on excellent form and is riding high after his victory in the Portugal Masters.
Henrik Stenson – The Swede is an excellent match player as evidenced by his win in the 2007 WGC Accenture Match Play.
Retief Goosen – He’s never won the tournament, but has put on some fantastic match play performances over the years. Twice, he’s beaten opponents by 12&11 – Jeff Maggert in 2004 then Mark Hensby in 2005.
Key hole: Any hole – In match play any hole on the course could provide the turning point in each match. Though there are three par 4s that could be potentially driveable, depending on the wind direction – 4th, 9th and 14th.
Skills required: Steely determination. Match play requires a different approach and, over 18-holes, any man in this field is more than capable of beating any other. The last man standing will have displayed gritty determination and that competitive edge.