Volvo World Match Play Championship

World Match Play Championship
Tournament information
Location Kent, England (in 2014)
Established 1964
Course(s) London Golf Club
Organized by IMG
Tour(s) European Tour (since 2004)
Format Match play
Prize fund 2,250,000
Month played October
Tournament record score
Score 10 & 8 Paul Casey (2006)
Current champion
Finland Mikko Ilonen
2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship

The Volvo World Match Play Championship was the name of an annual match play men's professional golf tournament which was staged from 1964 to 2014. From 2009 to 2012 the event was played at the Finca Cortesín Golf Club in Casares near Málaga, Spain, having previously been played at Wentworth Club near London. In 2013, the event was held at the Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort in Kavarna, Bulgaria. The event was traditionally played in the autumn, usually in October, but moved to a May date in 2011 and was an official money event on the European Tour from 2004 to 2014. Previous sponsors have included Piccadilly, Suntory, Toyota, Cisco and HSBC.

In 2014, the event was played in October at London Golf Club in Kent, England.


The tournament was founded by sports agent Mark McCormack as a showcase for the players he managed. The inaugural event in 1964 was won by Arnold Palmer, who was McCormack's first client. The calibre of the winners has consistently been very high, with the majority of the tournaments being won by players who have been ranked in the top two in the Official World Golf Ranking or its predecessor Mark McCormack's world golf rankings.

The event consisted of 36-hole matches played in a single day. The event had an eight-man field from 1964 to 1976. It expanded to 16 players for 1977 and 1978. In 1979, the field was 12 players, with four seeded players being given a bye in the first round. It was sometimes felt that this was unfair, as an unseeded player needed to string together eight successful rounds in four days to win, twice as many as in a stroke play tournament, whereas a seeded player only needed six successful rounds to win.

For its first 40 years the tournament was an unofficial one, highly regarded by golf fans in Britain and many other countries outside the United States, popular with players, and happily coexisting with the European Tour, at whose home course it was played, but not taken into account on an official tour money list. The introduction in 1999 of the 64-man WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which selected its field on the basis of the World Rankings, was a blow to the prestige of the older event, whose exhibition aspects, with a small invited field, were emphasised by contrast.

In 2003, the tournament was given a major overhaul. Greatly increased sponsorship was secured from the largest British based bank, HSBC, and the winner's prize was increased to £1 million, which was then easily the largest in world golf (although the Nedbank Golf Challenge had had a $2 million first prize from 2000–02).

In 2004, the championship became an official money European Tour event - not, however, the actual prize money, as the first prize was far higher than for the other events on the tour, but scaled-down amounts intended to be more proportionate. The field was increased to 16 players, all of whom needed to play eight rounds of golf to win, to eliminate the advantage previously given to seeds. A qualifying system, based primarily on performances in the four majors, replaced the invitations of the past. World ranking points were allocated to the event for the first time since 1999.[1]

In recent years, Americans have tended to decline their invitations. In 2005, no Americans took part at all, and with stalwart Ernie Els injured and Vijay Singh and Sergio García also absent, the field was one of the weakest seen at the event, with just one player from the world top ten. The 2006 event had a considerably stronger field with six of the world's top ten players headed by the world's top two ranked players Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. But in January 2007 HSBC activated a break clause in its ten-year contract and withdrew from sponsorship after the 2007 event.[2]

After HSBC withdrew its sponsorship in 2007, the tournament was given another major overhaul. After a break in 2008, the tournament returned in 2009 with Volvo as the new title sponsor.[3] The event moved from Wentworth to the Finca Cortesín Golf Club near Málaga in Spain. The format switched to an opening round robin, with 16 players divided into four groups and the winners advancing to the 36-hole semi-finals. The qualifying criteria were also changed to include certain players based on their nationality. The total prize money for 2009 was €3,250,000, with €750,000 of that going to the winner.

After another break in 2010, the tournament returned in May 2011, several months earlier than the traditional date in autumn. The field was expanded to 24 players, split into eight groups, playing in a round robin format. The top two players from each group would progress to the knockout stage. Unlike previous years, all matches would be played over 18 holes. The total prize money for 2011 was €3,400,000, with €800,000 of that going to the winner.

In 2013, the event was held in Bulgaria, becoming the first European Tour event in Bulgaria. Volvo has requested that the championship be moved to geographical areas of interest for the company and therefore the event will be rotated around Europe.[4]


European Tour event (2004–14)
Year Winner Country Score Runner-up
Volvo World Match Play Championship
2014 Mikko Ilonen  Finland 3 & 1 Sweden Henrik Stenson
2013 Graeme McDowell  Northern Ireland 2 & 1 Thailand Thongchai Jaidee
2012 Nicolas Colsaerts  Belgium 1 up Northern Ireland Graeme McDowell
2011 Ian Poulter  England 2 & 1 England Luke Donald
2010 No tournament
2009 Ross Fisher  England 4 & 3 United States Anthony Kim
2008 No tournament
HSBC World Match Play Championship
2007 Ernie Els (7)  South Africa 6 & 4 Argentina Ángel Cabrera
2006 Paul Casey  England 10 & 8 United States Shaun Micheel
2005 Michael Campbell  New Zealand 2 & 1 Republic of Ireland Paul McGinley
2004 Ernie Els (6)  South Africa 2 & 1 England Lee Westwood
Unofficial money event (1964–2003)
Year Winner Country Score Runner-up
HSBC World Match Play Championship
2003 Ernie Els (5)  South Africa 4 & 3 Denmark Thomas Bjørn
Cisco World Match Play Championship
2002 Ernie Els (4)  South Africa 2 & 1 Spain Sergio García
2001 Ian Woosnam (3)  Wales 2 & 1 Republic of Ireland Pádraig Harrington
2000 Lee Westwood  England 38 holes Scotland Colin Montgomerie
1999 Colin Montgomerie  Scotland 3 & 2 United States Mark O'Meara
1998 Mark O'Meara  United States 1 up United States Tiger Woods
Toyota World Match Play Championship
1997 Vijay Singh  Fiji 1 up South Africa Ernie Els
1996 Ernie Els (3)  South Africa 3 & 2 Fiji Vijay Singh
1995 Ernie Els (2)  South Africa 3 & 1 Australia Steve Elkington
1994 Ernie Els  South Africa 4 & 2 Scotland Colin Montgomerie
1993 Corey Pavin  United States 1 up England Nick Faldo
1992 Nick Faldo (2)  England 8 & 7 United States Jeff Sluman
1991 Seve Ballesteros (5)  Spain 3 & 2 Zimbabwe Nick Price
Suntory World Match Play Championship
1990 Ian Woosnam (2)  Wales 4 & 2 Zimbabwe Mark McNulty
1989 Nick Faldo  England 1 up Wales Ian Woosnam
1988 Sandy Lyle  Scotland 2 & 1 England Nick Faldo
1987 Ian Woosnam  Wales 1 up Scotland Sandy Lyle
1986 Greg Norman (3)  Australia 2 & 1 Scotland Sandy Lyle
1985 Seve Ballesteros (4)  Spain 6 & 5 Germany Bernhard Langer
1984 Seve Ballesteros (3)  Spain 2 & 1 Germany Bernhard Langer
1983 Greg Norman (2)  Australia 3 & 2 England Nick Faldo
1982 Seve Ballesteros (2)  Spain 37 holes Scotland Sandy Lyle
1981 Seve Ballesteros  Spain 1 up United States Ben Crenshaw
1980 Greg Norman  Australia 1 up Scotland Sandy Lyle
1979 Bill Rogers  United States 1 up Japan Isao Aoki
Colgate World Match Play Championship
1978 Isao Aoki  Japan 3 & 2 New Zealand Simon Owen
1977 Graham Marsh  Australia 5 & 3 United States Raymond Floyd
Piccadilly World Match Play Championship
1976 David Graham  Australia 38 holes United States Hale Irwin
1975 Hale Irwin (2)  United States 4 & 2 United States Al Geiberger
1974 Hale Irwin  United States 3 & 1 South Africa Gary Player
1973 Gary Player (5)  South Africa 40 holes Australia Graham Marsh
1972 Tom Weiskopf  United States 4 & 3 United States Lee Trevino
1971 Gary Player (4)  South Africa 5 & 4 United States Jack Nicklaus
1970 Jack Nicklaus  United States 2 & 1 United States Lee Trevino
1969 Bob Charles  New Zealand 37 holes United States Gene Littler
1968 Gary Player (3)  South Africa 1 up New Zealand Bob Charles
1967 Arnold Palmer (2)  United States 1 up Australia Peter Thomson
1966 Gary Player (2)  South Africa 6 & 4 United States Jack Nicklaus
1965 Gary Player  South Africa 3 & 2 Australia Peter Thomson
1964 Arnold Palmer  United States 2 & 1 England Neil Coles

Multiple winners

Through the 2014 event, the following players have won the World Match Play Championship more than once:

Wins Player Country Years won
7 Ernie Els  South Africa 1994, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007
5 Gary Player  South Africa 1965, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973
5 Seve Ballesteros  Spain 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1991
3 Greg Norman  Australia 1980, 1983, 1986
3 Ian Woosnam*  Wales 1987, 1990, 2001
2 Arnold Palmer  United States 1964, 1967
2 Hale Irwin  United States 1974, 1975
2 Nick Faldo  England 1989, 1992

* Woosnam is the only person to have won in three different decades

Qualification criteria

For the 2014 championship, the qualification criteria are as follows:[5]

  1. Defending champion
  2. The winner of the 2013 European Tour Race to Dubai
  3. The winner of the 2014 Volvo Golf Champions
  4. The winner of the 2014 Volvo China Open
  5. The winner of the 2014 Scottish Open
  6. The leading three available players, not otherwise exempt above, from the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) as of the conclusion of the 2014 Open Championship
  7. The leading three available players, not otherwise exempt above, from the Race to Dubai as of the conclusion of the 2014 Open Championship
  8. The current holders of the four major championships
  9. One tournament invite (with top 50 of OWGR as of 2014 PGA Championship, or from host country)

Media coverage

The World Match Play currently gets shown live by Sky Sports and it also gets broadcast in Ireland by Setanta Ireland.


Coordinates: 51°11′N 0°44′E / 51.19°N 0.73°E / 51.19; 0.73

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