As the London Golf Club gets ready to host the latest incarnation of the Volvo World Match Play later this month, we look at the history of the competition and discuss its timely return to these shores
Volvo World Match Play – London Calling
With Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph still fresh in the memory the decision to bring the Volvo World Match Play back to Britain and return it to the traditional October slot is looking inspired.
Six of the victorious team are due to appear at the London Golf Club in Kent later this month, which has the added honour of hosting the 50th anniversary of the inaugural tournament at Wentworth.
The competition first left these shores in the 2009 and spent three years in Spain before moving to the dramatic Thracian Cliffs course on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria.
London Golf Club’s Jack Nicklaus designed International Course will play host to a 16-man field with defending champion Graeme McDowell and reigning Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson joined by Gleneagles team-mates Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher.
Thongchai Jaidee, Alexander Levy, Joost Luiten, Shane Lowry and Mikko Ilonen are the others to qualify so far with the remaining slots soon to be filled.
The field will be split into four groups of four in the first stage before the leading two players per group proceed to the knockout phase taking place over the weekend.
A first prize of €650,000 is up for grabs with a total prize fund of €2.25m on offer over the five day competition, which begins on October 15.
This is not the first time the London Golf Club has played host to a major event. The venue’s Heritage Course hosted the European Open in 2008 and 2009 receiving praise from players and media alike, and attracting record crowds of over 90,000.
The International Course has some dramatic holes and is set up well for spectators so the club will be hoping to add to its growing international reputation.
It will be a fitting next chapter for a competition first won by Arnold Palmer at Wentworth in 1964. More recently the tournament saw Mark O’Meara come back from four down to beat Tiger Woods in 1998’s final and Ernie Els win an incredible seven titles in just 12 appearances up to 2007.
All the ingredients are in place for a fantastic tournament homecoming. Spectators are sure to come out in force once again and, providing the weather stays kind, the hosts will get a well-deserved boost to their already blossoming profile.