South Africa will host the third edition of the Volvo Golf Champions, the European Tour's "Tournament of Champions", at the Durban Country Club in KwaZulu-Natal. It will be the first event of 2013, and will feature the biggest prize purse on the African continent.
The Durban Country Club boasts a very an impressive résumé, having hosted the South African Open on no less than 17 occasions. It enjoys beautiful vistas overlooking the Indian Ocean and, with its undulating fairways, lush vegetation and sand dunes, is considered one of the most unique and challenging courses in the world.
It was recently voted one of the Top 100 golf courses in the World by Golf Magazine USA and is undoubtedly a shot maker's course that players will have to think their way around.
The 2012 event was also held in South Africa, taking place at the beautiful Fancourt Resort in George on the famous Links and was won by rising South African star Branden Grace. He held off the challenges of his two boyhood heroes, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, to win his second event in as many weeks in a dramatic play-off.
Grace, who also won the Volvo China Open in April, commented: "It was amazing to win such a big event so early in my career and to do it in a play-off against two players that I admire so much was unbelievable.
"I can't wait to defend my title and hope I can keep up the trend of playing my best golf in Volvo's tournaments."
"The Durban Country Club is a fantastic track and is a course known to throw up great champions," Grace added. "Ernie Els won the Centenary 2010 South African Open there, and I think it is provides a wonderful window to show yet another fantastic golf destination in South Africa to the world of golf."
Retief Goosen, who is currently recuperating from a back operation added: "I lost out in a play-off earlier this year to a very worthy winner and would love to finish one place better in 2013. As I start my rehabilitation, it will definitely be motivating to set myself the goal to be back and ready to compete at this great event in front of my home fans."
Next year's event will be held in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, the Department of Sport and Recreation and the Department of Tourism.
Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula declared himself happy with the return of the tournament to South Africa: "This is fantastic news for South African golf. Our leading golfers have made us very proud with their performances around the world.
"Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Trevor Immelman have all won majors, showing the world the strength of South African golf and there is every indication that Branden Grace will follow suit soon.
Top SA golfers competing at home
"We want to ensure there are opportunities for our South African fans and aspiring young golfers to see our star players compete at home against other Tour champions and the Volvo Golf Champions is the perfect opportunity."
Per Ericsson, president of Volvo Event Management said: "We are delighted to be partnering the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, the Department for Sport and Recreation and the Department for Tourism. I congratulate them for having the foresight and understanding of what this can do for the country and the province and I look forward to our cooperation.
He added: "The quality, both of the course and the infrastructure at the Durban Country Club, offer the perfect platform for the European Tour's 2012 winners to compete at the season-opening event."
Guy Kinnings, global co-managing director, IMG remarked: "The KwaZulu-Natal province and the South African governments have done an excellent job in demonstrating exactly why the Volvo Golf Champions should take place in this region and in the end it proved to be an easy decision to choose this province as our destination."
George O'Grady, chief executive of The European Tour, said: "This tournament of champions will see us welcome new partners, the KwaZulu-Natal province and South African government, and we also thank the Sunshine Tour for the opportunity to play on another leading course in South Africa where golf, and its golfers, continue to enjoy a rich vein of form."
Mike Mabuyakhulu, the KZN MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, said: "We are very happy to welcome the Volvo Golf Champions to our Province and are delighted to have been chosen to host the Volvo Golf Champions.
"As we look to grow our tourism offering, the hosting of the world's major sports tournaments of this calibre is very much part of our strategy and this partnership with Volvo and IMG is the perfect fit.
"It is a world-class tournament with a top quality field and we know the province of KwaZulu-Natal will be able to provide a perfect stage for the golfers to display their talents on as they battle for the 'champion of champions' title."
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