A fantastic field has assembled in the Kingdom of Bahrain this week for the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions. Seven of the World’s top-30 players will tee it up on the Royal Golf Club’s Montgomerie Course.
Sweden’s Robert Karlsson will make his first appearance in 2011 and the 2008 European Number 1 is looking forward to returning to the desert. In 2010 he won both the Commercialbank Qatar Masters and the Dubai World Championship in the Gulf.
“I would be very happy if I could carry on from where I left off in the Gulf last year,” he said.
Karlsson is joined on the start list by Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, both Molinaris, Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia.
The Spaniard is hoping for better fortunes in 2011 after a difficult 2010.
“The extended break I have taken over the winter has refreshed both me and my enthusiasm for the game all over again,” he said.
Volvo is the most prolific sponsor in the European Tour’s history. This tournament is the ninth different Volvo sponsored event since 1972 and the Tour’s first visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain marks the 71st staging of a Volvo event in those 39 years.
Co-designed by Colin Montgomerie and Robin Hiseman of European Golf Design, the Montgomerie Course at the Royal Golf Club is set over rolling, lush fairways travelling through rough desert terrain, there is more than a hint of the links on certain sections of the course.
Water plays a significant role on the run for home. A lake runs down the entire left side of both the 15th and 16th while the 17th and 18th have water down their entire right sides.
Venue: The Royal Golf Club, Kingdom of Bahrain
Date: Jan 27-30
Course stats: par 72, 7,244 yards
Defending Champion: Inaugural event
Thursday 27 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7am
Friday 28 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7am
Saturday 29 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10am
Sunday 30 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 9am
Francesco Molinari – The accurate Italian should enjoy the Montgomerie course as it puts a premium on placement from the tee. He was eighth last week in Abu Dhabi and he finished strongly with a closing 66.
Robert Karlsson – The Swede is making a name for himself as a desert specialist. He won twice in the Gulf last year – The Qatar Masters then the Dubai World Championship. The latter event was Karlsson’s last European Tour start and he’ll be looking to replicate his performance there.
Padraig Harrington – He’ll be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of disqualification last week in Abu Dhabi. He had opened there with an excellent 65 and looked to be on top form.
Key hole: 17th. At just 429 yards, this par 4 looks relatively innocuous on the card. But, standing on the tee, things appear considerably more challenging. Water skirts the right side of the hole as it turns gently from left to right. The green is heavily sloping towards the water and anything straying to its right side could end up wet.
Skills required: A strong nerve. The last four holes on the Montgomerie are significantly encroached upon by water. There’ll be potential for disaster down the stretch on Sunday and the winner will have to keep a cool head to keep his ball in play.