Countdown for Volvo Golf Champions begins

Per Ericsson with Shaikh Mohammed Bin Essa Al-Khalifa

With just 16 days to go, the Kingdom’s latest addition to its growing international events portfolio looks set for a great start as the eyes of the world and the people of Bahrain focus on the prestigious new Volvo Golf Champions.

Ever since the Volvo Golf Champions was first announced in July last year, right across Bahrain, individuals, organisation and businesses have been lining-up for a piece of the action as the final countdown starts towards the first-ever European Tour event to be staged in the Kingdom, whilst a raft of world-class stars have signed on the line for the event, which takes place at the Royal Golf Club, Bahrain from 27th – 30th January 2011.

Volvo has announced the entry of two additional ‘Major’ champions, Spanish star José Maria Olazábal, two times US Masters champion and American Todd Hamilton, winner of the 2004 Open Championship. Already confirmed players include international stars such as Colin Montgomerie, Ian Poulter, Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, Peter Hanson, Thomas Björn, Robert Karlsson, Matteo Manassero and Michael Campbell. Last day of entry for players is the 12th January 2011.

“These are incredibly exciting times for European golf and for the European Tour, along with its long-term partner Volvo and IMG to put together a brand new event in the Middle East at a time when the sponsorship market is very tough indeed is clear evidence that our golf circuit is in great shape, on and off the golf course,” said Olazábal, who won the US Masters in 1994 and 1999.

US star Hamilton, who won the British Open in 2004 becomes the third ‘Major’ champion to sign-up for the Bahrain showpiece.
“I played a dozen times on the European Tour last season and really, really enjoyed it, getting in the money on seven occasions,” said the 45-year-old American, who has 11 victories to his name on the notoriously difficult Japanese Tour.

“I have huge respect for European golf in general and Colin Montgomerie in particular and it will be a privilege – and I’m sure a challenge – to play the Volvo Golf Champions over the course he has designed in Bahrain,” he added.

“Ever since I first set foot in Bahrain over a year ago, I was struck by the ‘can-do’ attitude and the support of Bahrain Economic Development Board and our various other partners has been instrumental in us getting to the stage we are at today with a world class field committed to a first class venue here in a truly outstanding destination,” said Per Ericsson, President, Volvo Event Management Golf.

Professional golf may be relatively new to Bahrain, but then so too was Formula 1 back in 2004 and the community has fully supported stars such as Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher,” adds the man in charge of Volvo’s award-winning golf portfolio, asking the local population to, “Get involved with the Volvo Golf Champions, support great global stars such as Ian Poulter and Colin Montgomerie and you will not be disappointed, I can assure you.”

“Golf is now a key component in driving economic growth through golf and business tourism, positioning a premium destination such as Bahrain firmly on the global map through a worldwide marketing footprint extending to at least 150 countries and over half-a-billion people, whilst at the same time stimulating national and civic pride which is clearly in abundance here in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We are also delighted to learn that locally, Bahrain TV Sports channel will be giving valuable support, transmitting 4 days of live coverage,” he added.

Official research shows that the gross media value alone of a leading European Tour event is in excess of $50million whilst the total economic impact of the Ryder Cup in Wales was $110million, with the US Open at Pebble Beach estimated to have contributed $150million to the local economy.

“These are hugely impressive numbers that the game of golf, quite uniquely, is capable of delivering and we are absolutely delighted that Bahrain has had the vision to support Volvo and its partners,” added Ericsson.
“This year’s special edition of the Volvo Golf Champions is a celebration of golf, exclusively for previous winners on the European Tour, but next year, it will take on even greater significance, being the season-opening event of the 2012 European Tour in the same way as the Bahrain Grand Prix gets the Formula 1 season underway, with winners from this season exclusively eligible to play.”

“Attracting events such as the Volvo Golf Champions is a central part of the EDB’s remit to promote the Kingdom and our ‘Business Friendly’ environment. This directly supports Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030, which the EDB is leading under the guidance of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the EDB Chairman,” said Shaikh Mohammed Bin Essa Al-Khalifa, Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board.

“The vision is designed to drive the private sector as an engine for growth, support further diversification of the economy and ultimately elevate national living standards by creating greater opportunities for Bahrainis.”

Meanwhile, the Volvo Golf Champions is expected to generate a surge in interest and participation in the game of golf, according to Daij Khalifa Aleid, representative of the Bahrain Golf Association.
Today Per Ericsson also announced that Volvo has given the opportunity to a local Bahraini golfer to represent the Kingdom of Bahrain when he lines-up alongside the established stars of the European Tour; the winner of this week’s Bahrain Golf Association National Team Qualifier earns a coveted place in the field for the Volvo Golf Champions.

“The Bahrain Golf Association is thrilled that opportunities have been created for our players and competing against great golfers such as Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter will provide them with precious experience and help to inspire youngsters to take up the game,” said Daij Khalifa Aleid, representative of the Bahrain Golf Association.

“On the Montgomerie Course, we have successfully completed the re-seeding exercise and have had golf course ‘shaper’ Trevor Dormer working with our own Director of Agronomy Mark Hooker and his team, putting the finishing touches to a course that will be in perfect condition for our big European Tour debut,” said Susan Stevenson General Manager the Royal Golf Club.

“Off the course, we have been greatly encouraged by the numbers of requests to become volunteers, whilst our customer relations training programme in preparation for the Volvo Golf Champions is well underway and each and every member of staff is so enthusiastic about welcoming the world of golf to a Royal Golf Club we all take such pride in,” she added.

“With our partners, BEDB, IMG and the European Tour, Volvo is proud to have been able to help create a brand new event for the players, who have embraced the event with enthusiasm – and for Bahrain,” said Per Ericsson, President, Volvo Event Management.

“To have at least three ‘Major’ champions [Michael Campbell, José Maria Olazábal and Todd Hamilton] amongst the confirmed players underlines the importance of the event. 165 professional titles between them, victories earned on every continent of the world certainly show that this is seen as a prestigious new global championship and winning it, which will not be easy, will be a big feather in the cap of the champion.”

The Volvo Golf Champions Roadshow hits the road tomorrow with a series of promotional events taking place in key strategic locations throughout Manama, at Almoayyed Tower on 5th January, the World Trade Center on 10th January and Bahrain Financial Harbour on 11th January from 12 noon to 2pm, where a practice putting green will be located with one of the professionals from the Royal Golf Club on hand to help visitors capture the art of putting.

An extended promotional campaign will also take at Bahrain City Centre from 16th – 23rd January from 10am to 10pm, when visitors to the mall will be able to discover detailed information on the Volvo Golf Champions tournament and win valuable tickets by trying to hole-in-one on the 15m long putting green.

On course, some of the finest professional golfers on the planet will be playing, whilst, in the Volvo Village, special features will include a hands-on introduction to golf, Volvo’s S60 Pedestrian detection, a Come and Try Kid’s Zone and a Volvo Ocean Race display, with a wide range of food and beverages available.

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