Golf: World Match Play returns to England for 50th anniversary

LONDON (REUTERS) - The Volvo World Match Play Championship is to return to England this year with the 50th anniversary edition being staged at the London Golf Club on the outskirts of the capital.

The US$3 million (S$3.8 million) event, held in Bulgaria in May last year, returns to its traditional October date and features an elite 16-man field.

There will be four groups of four players in the opening round with the top two in each section going through to the knockout phase of the five-day championship that will be staged from Oct 15-19.

World number three Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, the defending champion, have already confirmed their participation.

"I really enjoy the match play format and I also want to support Volvo, not only because they are Swedish but because they have been such great supporters and sponsors of the European Tour for over 25 years," Stenson said in a news release on Wednesday.

American great Arnold Palmer won the inaugural World Match Play Championship at Wentworth on the fringes of London in 1964.

Wentworth hosted the event every year until 2007. The tournament was not held in 2008 or 2010 but in 2009, 2011 and 2012 it was staged in Andalucia, Spain.

Wednesday's announcement means that England, starved of top-notch golf tournaments in recent years, will host three leading events in 2014 - the others being the British Open in Liverpool in July and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May.

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