Volvo World Match Play Championship
|Location||Kavarna, Bulgaria (in 2013)|
|Course(s)||Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort|
|Length||7,291 yards (6,667 m)|
|Tour(s)||European Tour (since 2004)|
|Tournament record score|
|Score||10 & 8 Paul Casey (2006)|
|2013 Volvo World Match Play Championship|
The Volvo World Match Play Championship is the current name of an annual match play men's professional golf tournament. From 2009 to 2012 the event was played at the Finca Cortesín Golf Club in Casares near Málaga, Spain, having previously been played at Wentworth Club near London. In 2013, the event was held at the Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort in Kavarna, Bulgaria. The event was traditionally played in the autumn, usually in October, but moved to a May date in 2011 and is an official money event on the European Tour. Previous sponsors have included Piccadilly, Suntory, Toyota, Cisco and HSBC.
In 2014, the event will be played in October, and a location has yet to be determined.
The tournament was founded by sports agent, Mark McCormack, as a showcase for the players he managed. The inaugural event in 1964 was won by Arnold Palmer, who was McCormack's first client. The calibre of the winners has consistently been very high, with the majority of the tournaments being won by players who have been ranked in the top two in the Official World Golf Ranking or its predecessor Mark McCormack's world golf rankings.
The event consisted of 36-hole matches played in a single day. The event had an eight man field from 1964 to 1976. It expanded to 16 players for 1977 and 1978. In 1979, the field was 12 players, with four seeded players being given a bye in the first round. It was sometimes felt that this was unfair, as an unseeded player needed to string together eight successful rounds in four days to win, twice as many as in a stroke play tournament, whereas a seeded player only needed six successful rounds to win.
For its first 40 years the tournament was an unofficial one, highly regarded by golf fans in Britain and many other countries outside the United States, popular with players, and happily coexisting with the European Tour, at whose home course it is played, but not taken into account on an official tour money list. The introduction in 1999 of the 64-man WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which selected its field on the basis of the World Rankings, was a blow to the prestige of the older event, whose exhibitional aspects, with a small invited field, were emphasised by contrast.
In 2003, the tournament was given a major overhaul. Greatly increased sponsorship was secured from the largest British based bank, HSBC, and the winner's prize was increased to £1 million, which was then easily the largest in world golf (although the Nedbank Golf Challenge had had a $2 million first prize from 2000-02). In 2004, the field was increased to 16 players, all of whom need to play eight rounds of golf to win, to eliminate the advantage previously given to seeds. A qualifying system based primarily on performances in the four majors, replaced the invitations of the past. World ranking points were allocated to the event (for the first time since 1999), and the championship became an official money European Tour Order of Merit event - not however the actual prize money, as the first prize is far higher than for the other events on the tour, but scaled down amounts intended to be more proportionate.
In recent years, Americans have tended to decline their invitations. In 2005, no Americans took part at all, and with stalwart Ernie Els injured and Vijay Singh and Sergio García also absent, the field was one of the weakest seen at the event, with just one player from the world top ten. The 2006 event had a considerably stronger field with six of the world's top ten players headed by the world's top two ranked players Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. But in January 2007 HSBC activated a break clause in its ten year contract and withdrew from sponsorship after the 2007 event.
After HSBC withdrew its sponsorship in 2007, the tournament was given another major overhaul. After a break in 2008, the tournament returned in 2009 with Volvo as the new title sponsor. The event moved from Wentworth to the Finca Cortesín Golf Club near Málaga in Spain. The format switched to an opening round robin, with 16 players divided into four groups and the winners advancing to the 36-hole semi-finals. The qualifying criteria were also changed to include certain players based on their nationality. The total prize money for 2009 was €3,250,000, with €750,000 of that going to the winner.
After another break in 2010, the tournament returned in May 2011, several months earlier than the traditional date in autumn. The field was expanded to 24 players, split into eight groups, playing in a round robin format. The top two players from each group would progress to the knockout stage. Unlike previous years, all matches would be played over 18 holes. The total prize money for 2011 was €3,400,000, with €800,000 of that going to the winner.
In 2013, the event was held in Bulgaria, becoming the first European Tour event in Bulgaria. Volvo has requested that the championship be moved to geographical areas of interest for the company and therefore the event will be rotated around Europe.
Through the 2012 event, the following players have won the World Match Play Championship more than once:
|7||Ernie Els||South Africa||1994, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007|
|5||Gary Player||South Africa||1965, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973|
|5||Seve Ballesteros||Spain||1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1991|
|3||Greg Norman||Australia||1980, 1983, 1986|
|3||Ian Woosnam*||Wales||1987, 1990, 2001|
|2||Arnold Palmer||United States||1964, 1967|
|2||Hale Irwin||United States||1974, 1975|
|2||Nick Faldo||England||1989, 1992|
* Woosnam is the only person to have won in three different decades
For the 2013 championship, the qualification criteria are as follows:
- Defending champion
- The leading player (not otherwise exempt above) from the 2012 Portugal Masters
- The top four players (not otherwise exempt above) from the final 2012 European Tour Race to Dubai Rankings
- The leading player (not otherwise exempt above) from the 2013 Volvo Golf Champions
- The leading player (not otherwise exempt above) from the 2013 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
- The leading player (not otherwise exempt above) from the 2013 Commercialbank Qatar Masters
- The leading player (not otherwise exempt above), based upon his nationality, listed on the Official World Golf Ranking, from each of the following regions following the 2013 Masters Tournament:
- Africa/Middle East
- North America
- South America
- Asia (comprising China, South East Asia, India, Japan and Korea)
- Australasia (comprising Australia, Fiji and New Zealand)
- The leading two players (not otherwise exempt above) from the Official World Golf Ranking following the 2013 Masters Tournament
- The current holders of the four major championships (if players are exempt, additional places are allocated to the following category)
- The leading player (and, in accordance with the previous category, up to 4 further players taken in ranking order) (not otherwise exempt above) from the 2013 European Tour Race to Dubai Rankings following the 2013 Masters Tournament
- The leading player (not otherwise exempt above) from the 2013 Volvo China Open
- One sponsor invite from the top 50 from the Official World Golf Ranking following the 2013 Masters
The World Match Play currently gets shown live by Sky Sports and it also gets broadcast in Ireland by Setanta Ireland.
- World Rankings are refined, but still confusing
- Don't Bank on HSBC, sportbusiness.com, 31 January 2007.
- "Volvo Named Sponsors of World Match Play Championship]". European Tour. 23 June 2008.
- . ESPN. Associated Press. 22 October 2012 Bulgaria to host European Tour http://espn.go.com/golf/story/_/id/8537086/bulgaria-host-1st-ever-european-tour-event Bulgaria to host European Tour. Retrieved 22 October 2012. Missing or empty
- Volvo World Match Play - Qualification Criteria