Four of Colin Montgomerie's European Ryder Cup team, Ian Poulter, Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, Peter Hanson, his Vice Captain Thomas Björn along with 2010 Dubai Golf Championship winner Robert Karlsson, the 2010 European Tour Rookie of the Year Matteo Manassero and former US Open Champion Michael Campbell have all booked their tickets to Bahrain for the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions at The Royal Golf Club from the 27th to 30th January, 2011.
This exciting new tournament takes place with the full support of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) under the guidance of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Chairman of the EDB. Volvo Event Management Golf has worked with IMG to create an event with unique characteristics that makes it stand out on the schedule. It has an original and specifically devised qualification criteria ensuring a field rich in quality consisting only of past winners of European Tour Tournaments. From 2012, the Volvo Golf Champions will be the curtain-raiser on the European Tour schedule with the field containing only winners from the previous season. By way of celebrating the inaugural tournament the field has been extended up to 126 and will include both current and past champions.
World Ranked Number Eight, Ian Poulter, who won the 2010 World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play Championship earlier in the year and last month won the 2010 UBS Open and finished in second place at the season finale Dubai Golf Championship, is looking forward to his first trip to Bahrain. He explained, "A new event and a new destination is always exciting and welcomed by the players onto the schedule and we think the Volvo Golf Champions is a great addition to the Middle East swing. I have had an amazing end to my season and I will be looking to start 2011 off in the same vein. I am also looking forward to playing on The Montgomerie and seeing if I can better our Captain's score on the course he designed!"
Robert Karlsson has enjoyed a return to form this year after a frustrating time out with illness and injury following his 2008 European Tour Order of Merit win and with victories at the 2010 Qatar Masters and the 2010 Dubai Golf Championship his game is clearly suited to desert golf. Currently World Ranked Number 16, he said, "This will be my first event on the 2011 European Tour and I would be very happy if I could carry on from where I left off in the Middle East last month. I have played many Volvo events over the years and they are always fantastic with really strong player fields so I have no doubt this first Volvo Golf Champions will be a great success."
The recently crowned Rookie of the Year, 17 year old Matteo Manassero, has been breaking records right, left and centre in his young career, the highlight since he turned professional was winning the 2010 Castelló Masters and becoming the youngest player to win in the history of the European Tour. He enthused, "I am looking forward to my first trip to Bahrain and also to playing my first full year on the Tour. I have loved every minute of my experience so far and am going to enjoy Christmas at home with my family before heading out to the warmer weather in the Middle East. I think it will be nice to be playing in a brand new tournament at a new destination where no one else will have any more experience than me. We will all be the new boys – except Monty of course!"
Per Ericsson, President of Volvo Event Management Golf, is understandably delighted with the calibre of the first players to commit to the Volvo Golf Champions. With over 20 years experience in running over 120 world class golf tournaments he feels confident that his team has got the ingredients right for the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions. He explained, "It is great to be announcing these household names so far out from the tournament. We really appreciate their early commitment and are very confident that further names that we will announce shortly will have the same wow factor. The Royal Golf Club continues to work tirelessly with us and our partners IMG to ensure they are ready to host their first International European Tour event while the enthusiasm and support we are receiving from EDB has been invaluable."
He continued, "The winner of the Volvo Golf Champions earns a coveted place in the Volvo World Match Play Championship in May and clearly many of the world's top players see this as an early opportunity to book their place in the all-star line-up for Finca Cortesín."
Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of the EDB, commented "We are delighted to have attracted such a high calibre of international golf stars to Bahrain for the inaugural tournament in January 2011. Hosting and supporting key international events, such as the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, the first F1 event in the Middle East, the Bahrain Boat Show International, and the Volvo Golf Champions, is an important focus for the EDB as we seek to showcase the Kingdom's attractive business environment for companies looking to access the Gulf region."
Shaikh Rashid Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Royal Golf Club's owning company, added, "We are very excited that next month we will realise the dream of holding our first European Tour event and it is very gratifying to hear that these great golfers have already confirmed they will be playing. All our preparations are going wonderfully and we are thoroughly looking forward to welcoming everyone to the Volvo Golf Champions in January."
Guy Kinnings, IMG's Director of Golf, EAME, said "Everything is coming together for a successful inaugural Volvo Golf Champions and all credit must go to Volvo, the EDB and The Royal Golf Club for their vision in creating this unique event. The players are really getting behind the tournament and we anticipate a really strong field."