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World Match Play moving to Spain

Golf’s World Match Play Championship, which has been held at Wentworth in England since its inception in 1964, will not take place this year but is to move to Spain in 2009 under a round-robin format.

The International Management Group said on Monday the event, with a prize fund of $5 million, would be staged at the Finca Cortesin club near Marbella with a new sponsor, Volvo.

This year’s season-ending Volvo Masters in Valderrama will be the last, to be replaced in 2009 by the Dubai World Championship as Volvo switch backing to a revamped Match Play.

A field of 16 will be split into four groups of four over the first two days over 18 holes with group winners progressing to the 36-hole semi-finals on the Saturday.

Arnold Palmer won the first Match Play title in 1964. South African Ernie Els, last year’s champion, has a record seven victories to his credit dating back to 1994.

But the future of the tournament has been in doubt since sponsors HSBC pulled out last year.

Monday’s Daily Telegraph reported that in the absence of this year’s traditional event, scheduled for October 9-12, it was expected a scaled down one could still be held at Wentworth.

But IMG’s spokesman Michele Mair said on Monday: “IMG is working on a high-profile event, details of which will be announced shortly.”


June 24, 2008

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