Volvo World Match Play Championship Preview

Finca Cortesin Golf Club on Spain’s Costa del Sol plays host to the Volvo World Match Play Championship this week. Paul Casey makes his long-awaited comeback where he’ll face 15 of the world’s best players.

Paul Casey

Lowdown: Finca Cortesin Golf Club on Spain's Costa del Sol plays host to the Volvo World Match Play Championship this week. Paul Casey makes his long-awaited comeback where he'll face 15 of the world's best players. It's a new venue and a new format for the tournament that was hosted at Wentworth every year since its inception in 1964. The 16 entrants have been split into four groups in which every player will face each other in a round robin format over day's one and two. The leading player from each group at the end of Friday's play will go forward to Saturday' semi-finals. Those matches, and Sunday's final, will be contested over 36 holes. It's a fascinating line-up in the event with ten of the 16 men in the field making their World Match Play debut. Anthony Kim is the only American entrant and nine of the 16 players hail from Europe. Casey in the number one seed, though it will be the first time he's played competitively since suffering a debilitating rib injury. Also continuing his return from injury, Martin Kaymer will have taken great heart from his performance in last week's Castello Masters where he finished as runner-up. Lee Westwood is the second seed, Henrik Stenson third and Sergio Garcia fourth. The four top seeds are in different groups and, if things progress to the world rankings, those four would be the semi finalists. The likes of Retief Goosen, Rory McIlroy and Angel Cabrera might have something to say about that however. Designed by Cabell B Robinson, the course at Finca Cortesin only opened for play in 2006. Overlooking the Mediterranean, it's set to be a spectacular venue for this prestigious tournament.

Venue: Finca Cortesin GC, Casares, Spain Date: October 29 - November 1 Course stats: par 72, 7,380 yards Purse: €3,250,000 Winner: €750,000 Defending Champion: Ernie Els (2007)

TV Coverage: Thursday 22 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 9am Friday 23 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 9am Saturday 24 - Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9.30am Sunday 25 - Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9.30am

Player Watch: Lee Westwood - A former winner of this tournament, the World number 5 is on excellent form and is riding high after his victory in the Portugal Masters. Henrik Stenson - The Swede is an excellent match player as evidenced by his win in the 2007 WGC Accenture Match Play. Retief Goosen - He's never won the tournament, but has put on some fantastic match play performances over the years. Twice, he's beaten opponents by 12&11 - Jeff Maggert in 2004 then Mark Hensby in 2005.

Key hole: Any hole - In match play any hole on the course could provide the turning point in each match. Though there are three par 4s that could be potentially driveable, depending on the wind direction - 4th, 9th and 14th.

Skills required: Steely determination. Match play requires a different approach and, over 18-holes, any man in this field is more than capable of beating any other. The last man standing will have displayed gritty determination and that competitive edge.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?