Volvo Golf Champions

An exciting mix in the  field of new stars and seasoned campaigners are this week preparing to line up in the second edition of the €2million Volvo Golf Champions at its new home, the Links at Fancourt, in South Africa. A €350,000 winner’s cheque will secured them a place in The European Tour’s ‘tournament of champions’. The 2011 Major Champions Darren Clarke and Charl Schwartzel lead the field and are joined by other major winners, including Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. Els commented;

“Obviously I love playing in South Africa and have won five of my European Tour titles there. I have great memories of playing at the Links at Fancourt, both in professional events and when on holiday there, and I’m looking forward to trying to win The European Tour’s first true ‘tournament of champions”.

“South African golf is in great shape at the moment, which is apparent by the number of South Africans in the field. Dr. Hasso Plattner’s vision in creating The Links at Fancourt will provide the perfect stage to showcase the wonderful golf opportunities offered in South Africa.”

Of the seasoned campaigners, two Ryder Cup captains are teeing up for this event. José María Olazábal and Colin Montgomerie will bring their enormous experience into the arena. By contrast in the experience on display, will be two of the more exciting youngtsers to grace the links in recent years. The new talents in European golf with 18 year old Italian Matteo Manassero and Englishman Tom Lewis 21, will be keen to compete against the old school players.

The Volvo Golf Champions is an exclusive, limited field event with no halfway cut, open only to European Tour players who have won an event on the previous year’s European Tour International Schedule. Joining them are the winners of the first two events of the 2012 season, the Africa Open and the Joburg Open. Other entries include current Tour Members, under the age of 50, with more than ten European Tour victories.

Three time major winner Ernie Els struggled on the greens last year which then affected his ability to have fun on the course, he bemoaned this loss saying,

“I’ve kind of lost my sense of humor, you know. When you don’t putt well your sense of humor doesn’t work very well. I’d like to get my sense of humor back. My work ethic and determination, especially this year, is better than ever because I had such a dismal season last year.”

“I would like to really turn things around this year and see if I can win some tournaments again.”

He needs to turn things around because he doesn’t qualify automatically for the Masters in April.

“I know where I stand and I know what I need to do. I have a couple of months to rectify that. I don’t want to be asking for an invite there.”

Padraig Harrington  also a three-time major winner, now ranked 89th in the world also finds himself in a similar position. He understands though that you can not win every year, talking about his two British Open titles and a PGA Championship victory.

“I certainly had a peak year in 2007 and another peak in 2008. It’s impossible to always have peak years. It doesn’t worry me in the greater scheme of things, because I know you can’t win them every year. You have to sit there and be patient and wait for your turn, and like 2007 and 2008, they all come at once.”

ALLAN HENRY / US PRESSWIRE