Defending champion Graeme McDowell has welcomed the decision to bring the Volvo World Match Play back to England with the event scheduled for the International Course at the London Golf Club in Kent from October 15-19.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Piccadilly World Match Play Championship at Wentworth in 1964, when Arnold Palmer beat Neil Coles 2 and 1, the 2014 Championship will revert to a 16-man field and offer a prize fund of €2.25m (just over US$3 million) with a first prize of €650,000 (approx US$880,000).
The elite field will qualify via revised criteria and will be split into four groups of four in the group stages before the leading 2 players per group proceed to the knock out phase to be played over the weekend. The Tournament will now be played over five days starting on Wednesday.
Endorsing the move to the Championship’s former traditional October date as well as a long awaited return to the United Kingdom, the first two players to qualify were quick to confirm their participation – defending champion McDowell and the 2013 Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup winner Henrik Stenson.
McDowell said: “I think it is fantastic that the Volvo World Match Play Championship will be played in England for this special anniversary.
I enjoyed everything about my victory last year at Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria. The course was spectacular and any event that Volvo are involved in as a sponsor is always a privilege to win.
"It seems right though to celebrate the Championship’s anniversary in England, where the tournament was held for so many years.”
He added: “I have heard that the International Course at the London Golf Club is a great track and I’m looking forward to seeing it for myself. I finished third at the 2008 European Open on the Heritage Course there and I think it will make for a fantastic venue. I'm very much looking forward to defending my title there in October.”
McDowell was the first Irishman to lift the coveted title after three previous defeats in the final.
McDowell himself lost one up to Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts at Finca Cortesin in Spain in 2012 before returning to beat Thongchai Jaidee in Bulgaria last year.
When the event was played at Wentworth, Pádraig Harrington lost 2 and 1 to Ian Woosnam in th Cisco World Matchplay final in 2001 while in 2005, Paul McGinley went down by the same margin to reigning US Open champion Michael Campbell in a HSBC sponsored edition.
The event did not take place in 2008 or 2010 but Volvo sponsored it in 2009 and since 2011.