Volvo Golf Champions moves to Durban

The third edition of the Volvo Golf Champions will take place at the Durban Country Club in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, South Africa, in partnership with the Kwa-Zulu Natal Provincial Government, the Central Government Departments for Sport and Recreation and the Department of Tourism. The European Tour’s ‘Tournament of Champions’ will be the first event of the new year and will be played from the 10th to the 13th January 2013 with the most valuable purse on the African continent. In 2012 the prize fund was €2million, approx. ZAR21 million, and the 2013 prize fund will be announced in late October.

The Durban Country Club is a renowned Championship course with an impressive résumé having hosted the South African Open on no less than 17 occasions. It enjoys beautiful vistas overlooking the Indian Ocean and, with its undulating fairways, lush vegetation and sand dunes is considered one of the most unique and challenging courses in the world. It was recently voted one of the Top 100 golf courses in the World by Golf Magazine USA and is undoubtedly a shot maker’s course that players will have to think their way around.

The Kwa-Zulu Natal Provincial Government has given the Volvo Golf Champions their whole-hearted support as they seek to show the world the fabulous golf credentials of their Province. There are over 70 golf courses in the region which flourish in this beautiful garden province of South Africa, with its subtropical climate of lush and well-watered valleys, washed by the warm Indian Ocean.

Significantly the KZN Province is being supported by the National Departments for Sport and Recreation and the Department for Tourism, who recognised the importance of a global international sports event in creating opportunities for South Africans, creating a long term legacy for the nation and generating exposure for the counties wealth of attractions and developing economic and business opportunities.

Kwa-Zulu Natal has been selected to host the Championship having demonstrated to Volvo, IMG and the European Tour that it has the enthusiasm and credentials to showcase the region to an international audience and host the world’s very best golfers on one of its many fabulous golf courses.

Per Ericsson, President of Volvo Event Management said, “We are delighted to be partnering the Kwa-Zulu Natal Provincial Government, the Department for Sport and Recreation and the Department for Tourism. I congratulate them for having the foresight and understanding of what this can do for the country and the province and I look forward to our corporation. Our plan is to rotate this great tournament around key destinations around the world and we are delighted to have formed a relationship with South Africa whose strategy matches so well with our vision for the Volvo Golf Champions. The quality, both of the course and the infrastructure at the Durban Country Club, offer the perfect platform for the European Tour’s 2012 winners to compete at the season-opening event.”

Ericsson continued, “The world final of our tournament for club golfers, the Volvo World Golf Challenge, will take place in the same week, with the winners ‘Playing with the Pros’ on Friday at the Volvo Golf Champions.”

Guy Kinnings, Global Co-Managing Director, IMG remarked, “The Kwa-Zulu Natal Province and the South African Governments have done an excellent job in demonstrating exactly why the Volvo Golf Champions should take place in this region and in the end it proved to be an easy decision to choose this Province as our destination. IMG has over fifty years experience in running golf tournaments and, together with Volvo’s 25 years of golf expertise, this makes for a great combination in delivering this tournament with the help of our partners, the European Tour. We are looking forward to working together to develop this ever strengthening tournament and we are eagerly anticipating what the third edition will bring.”

George O’Grady CBE, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “We are delighted the Volvo Golf Champions is taking place in Durban and that as our longest-serving partners Volvo will be continuing with their 78th European Tour event, a special relationship driven by passion and vision. This tournament of champions will see us welcome new partners, the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province Government and South African Government, and we also thank the Sunshine Tour for the opportunity to play on another leading course in South Africa where golf, and its golfers, continue to enjoy a rich vein of form.”

Michael Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, KwaZulu-Natal Province Government explained, “We are very happy to welcome the Volvo Golf Champions to our Province and are delighted to have been chosen to host the Volvo Golf Champions. As we look to grow our tourism offering, the hosting of the world’s major sports tournaments of this calibre is very much part of our strategy and this partnership with Volvo and IMG is the perfect fit. It is a world-class tournament with a top quality field and we know the province of KwaZulu-Natal will be able to provide a perfect stage for the golfers to display their talents on as they battle for the ‘champion of champions title’.

Minister Fikile Mbalula, Minister for Sport and Recreation declared, “This is fantastic news for South African golf. Our leading golfers have made us very proud with their performances around the world. Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman have all won majors showing the world the strength of South African golf and there is every indication that Branden Grace will follow suit soon. We want to ensure there are opportunities for our South African fans and aspiring young golfers to see our star players compete at home against other Tour champions and the Volvo Golf Champions is the perfect opportunity.”

Deputy Minister of Tourism, South African Government, Tokozile Xasa, added, “This is a real boost for tourism in South Africa where we have so many wonderful facilities to offer visitors from around the world. KwaZulu-Natal is a beautiful part of our country and I believe that the Volvo Golf Champions will introduce golf fans across the globe to the many wonderful attributes of South Africa as a best tourist destination as the event is viewed on television by many millions around the world.”

January’s 2012 Volvo Golf Champions was held at the beautiful Fancourt Resort in George on the famous Links and was won by South Africa’s rising star, Branden Grace. He held off the challenge of his two boyhood heroes, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen to win his second event in as many weeks in a dramatic play-off.

Grace, who also won the Volvo China Open in April, commented, “It was amazing to win such a big event so early in my career and to do it in a play-off against two players that I admire so much was unbelievable. I can’t wait to defend my title and hope I can keep up the trend of playing my best golf in Volvo’s tournaments! The Durban Country Club is a fantastic track and is a course known to throw up great champions. Ernie Els won the Centenary 2010 South African Open there and I think it is provides a wonderful window to show yet another fantastic golf destination in South Africa to the world of golf.”

Retief Goosen, currently recuperating from a back operation added, “I lost out in a play-off earlier this year to a very worthy winner and would love to finish one place better in 2013. As I start my rehabilitation, it will definitely be motivating to set myself the goal to be back and ready to compete at this great event in front of my home fans.”

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