Europe back to work at Volvo Champions
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2014 Volvo Golf Champions | Preview | 08 Jan 2014
The European Tour for the calendar year 2014 gets underway in Durban in South Africa this week where Charl Schwartzel starts the warm favourite not only because of his standing as the leading world ranked player in the field but because of his great form in his most recent starts.
The event, effectively now the equivalent of the PGA Tour’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions, is now into its fourth staging with Paul Casey, Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen the previous winners although this will be just the second time the event has been played at the Durban Country Club.
The event is restricted to winners of events on the 2013 European schedule and European Tour members with ten or more victories to their name. 36 players will tee it up this week.
Schwartzel has been inside the top ten in six of his last seven starts internationally and although he has not played this event at this venue he has played the Durban Country Club well in South African Open Championships at the venue in recent times.
Thomas Bjorn has been in some of the best form of his career in recent starts including his win in Sun City and his runner-up finish to Jason Day at the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne. Bjorn also won the European Masters.
Bjorn finished a very solid 9th in this tournament and at this venue twelve months ago so deserves a lot of respect.
Previous winner Branden Grace has been in solid if unspectacular form of late and finished 7th at this particular venue last year.
Miguel Angel Jimenez comes off his win at the Hong Kong Open, a 20th place finish at the World Cup and an 8th place at the Dubai World Championship. The now 50 year old has already proven himself more than competitive despite him now being eligible to play Seniors golf.
Brett Rumford is the only Australian in the field courtesy of his wins on the European Tour last year. The West Australian, Australia’s number four ranked player, played with much less success late in 2013 but that he is even in this field tells the story of the great year he had.
Another with Australian connections is Jin Jeong who not only won the Perth International last October to gain European Tour status but who spent much of his amateur career in Melbourne.