After seven years away, golf’s World Match Play Championship returns to UK shores for 2014 as some of the sport’s biggest names compete for the prestigious title at London Golf Club in Kent, live on Sky Sports.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary since the inaugural championship, which was won by the legendary Arnold Palmer in 1964, the 2014 event reverts to a field of 16 players, offering a prize fund in excess of £1.5 million with the winner pocketing a cheque for £500,000.
Founded in 1964 and organised together with current title sponsors Volvo since 2009, the World Match Play Championship has evolved considerably since moving from its previous long-term home at Wentworth after 2007, including a revision of its format and changes to the qualifying system.
Long a fixture in the heathland of the famous Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey, before moving to Finca Cortesin in Spain in 2009 and latterly Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria, the World Match Play Championship also returns to its traditional autumnal berth in the European Tour schedule, as well as being the final UK stop of the year on the calendar.
Six players from the victorious European Ryder Cup team have qualified for this year’s tournament which will be staged on the downland International Course at London Golf Club, located on the south-eastern reaches of the capital, on the outskirts of the village of Ash in Kent, known as ‘The Garden of England’.
The 16-man field boasts ten of the world’s top 50, with 15 players ranked within the top 70 of the official world golf rankings, all of whom amassing a total of 112 titles from around the world.
Giving their thumbs up to the move to the championship’s former traditional October date, as well as a long awaited return to the UK, the first two players to qualify were quick to confirm their participation, with defending champion Graeme McDowell and 2013 European Tour Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup winner Henrik Stenson declaring their intention to compete for the coveted trophy.
Defending champion McDowell told the European Tour website: “I am really excited about defending my title in England in October at London Golf Club.
“I love the match play format and it certainly seems to bring out some of my best golf so this is a tournament and a title I have been looking forward to defending all year.”
Northern Irishman and major champion McDowell and Stenson of Sweden headline a field, which features a truly international line-up with players from 13 different nationalities represented.
Ryder Cup heroes Thomas Björn, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher will all be in action, as will American Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed, and three-time European Tour winner Francesco Molinari.
Also in the field will be this year’s HSBC Golf Champions winner Pablo Larrazábal, two-time US PGA Tour winner Jonas Blixt and local favourite and winner of the 2006 World Match Play Championship, Paul Casey.
Additional qualifiers include 2013 World Match Play runner-up Thongchai Jaidee, European Tour winners Joost Luiten and Shane Lowry, plus this year’s Irish Open and China Open winners in Mikko Ilonen and Alexander Levy respectively.
In a change to previous years, the 2014 Tournament will be played over five days, with the field split into four groups of four in the group stages before the leading two players per group proceed to the knock out phase to be played over the weekend.
With the Race to Dubai drawing ever closer, precious European Tour prize money will be up for grabs at London Golf Club this week and you can watch all five days of the 2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship unfold live on Sky Sports.
Sky Sports will be screening all five days from the 2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship exclusively on Sky Sports 4, the broadcaster’s ‘home of golf’.
David Livingstone presents Sky Sports’ coverage from London Golf Club, with commentary and analysis throughout the tournament provided by Bruce Critchley, Richard Boxall, Mark Roe and Wayne Riley.
There will be 25 hours of live coverage across all five days of the event, starting at 2.00pm on Wednesday, October 15, with the final day’s play including both the semi-finals and final on Sunday, October 19, with coverage beginning at 9.30am.
Sky Sports subscribers can watch the action live online via Sky Go, get live scores and additional information about the tournament via the Sky Sports golf website, or follow @SkySportsGolf on Twitter for all the latest news and updates from the course.
In addition to the Volvo World Match Play Championship, Sky Sports viewers will be able to enjoy a feast of live golf this week featuring four top tournaments from around the world.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Sky Sports will broadcast delayed coverage of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf tournament from Bermuda, featuring Ryder Cup stars Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and Jim Furyk.
Live international golf on Thursday through to Sunday comes from the PGA Tour with the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, while there is also action of the Hong Kong Open in the early hours of the morning.
Also at the weekend, Sky Sports’ coverage of top women’s golf continues with the final two rounds of the South Africa Women’s Open, available via the Red Button on Sky Sports 4 on Saturday and Sunday.
.Wednesday 15th October
Day 1: Group Matches LIVE: 2.00pm-5.00pm Sky Sports 4 Thursday 16th October
Day 2: Group Matches LIVE: 11.30am-4.30pm Sky Sports 4 Friday 17th October
Day 3: Group Matches LIVE: 11.30am-4.30pm Sky Sports 4 Saturday 18th October
Day 4: Quarter Finals LIVE: 11.30am-4.30pm Sky Sports 4 Sunday 19th October
Day 5: Semi Finals & Final LIVE: 9.30am-4.30pm Sky Sports 4 (Coverage starts via Sky Sports 4 Red Button at 8.00am)