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PGA European - Volvo Golf Champions Preview
From The Sports Network

DATES: Thursday, January 10th through Sunday, January 13th
SITE: Durban Country Club, Durban, South Africa
COURSE ARCHITECT: George Waterman and Lawrie B. Waters (1922)
PAR: 72
YARDAGE: 6,732
Hole-By-Hole:1 - Par 4 387 Yds10 - Par 5 560 Yds
2 - Par 3 188 Yds11 - Par 4 480 Yds
3 - Par 5 512 Yds12 - Par 3 156 Yds
4 - Par 3 180 Yds13 - Par 4 339 Yds
5 - Par 4 459 Yds14 - Par 5 527 Yds
6 - Par 4 352 Yds15 - Par 3 194 Yds
7 - Par 4 372 Yds16 - Par 4 417 Yds
8 - Par 5 501 Yds17 - Par 4 401 Yds
9 - Par 4 434 Yds18 - Par 4 273 Yds
--------------------------
36 3,385 Yds36 3,347 Yds
 
Annual:  3rd
Television:  Golf Channel - Thursday/Friday -- 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (et) - taped,
  - Saturday/Sunday -- 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (et) - taped
Defending Champion:  Branden Grace
Runner-Up:  Retief Goosen, Ernie Els
Tournament Record:  268 (Paul Casey, 2011)
54-Hole Record:  200 (Paul Casey, Peter Hanson, 2011)
36-Hole Record:  133 (R. Jacquelin, E. Molinari, P. Hanson, M.A. Jimenez, 2011)
18-Hole Record:  63 (Soren Kjeldsen, Richard Finch, 2011 - The Royal Golf Club)
Total Purse:  $2,615,528
Shares:  1st Place - $457,717; 2nd Place - $295,947; 3rd Place - $171,709
 
2012 Finish
PlayerScorePlayerScore
Branden Grace *280Jose Maria Olazabal284
Retief Goosen280Raphael Jacquelin286
Ernie Els280Louis Oosthuizen286
Nicolas Colsaerts281Thomas Aiken287
Charl Schwartzel282Two players at288

* - Won in Playoff

 
Past Volvo Golf Champions Winners
YearWinner (Score) -- Runners-Up
2012*Branden Grace (280) -- Retief Goosen, Ernie Els
2011Paul Casey (268) -- Peter Hanson, Miguel Angel Jimenez

* - Won in Playoff

Top Contenders in the Field
Player20112012
Branden Grace---Won
Ernie Els---T-2
Retief Goosen---T-2
Nicolas Colsaerts---4th
Jose M. Olazabalmc6th
Louis Oosthuizen---T-7
Paul LawrieT-30T-10
Padraig Harrington58thT-10
Robert RockmcT-12
Thomas BjornT-44T-16
Darren ClarkeT-8T-20
Matteo ManasseroT-1323rd
G. Fdez-CastanomcT-26
Colin MontgomerieT-5931st
Michael HoeyT-6333rd
Francesco MolinariT-20---
Paul CaseyWon---
Scott Jamieson------
Henrik Stenson------
Sports Network Selections

Pick to Win - Henrik Stenson
Darkhorse - Scott Jamieson
 
Last Week's Pick to Win - Dec. 13-16 (Charl Schwartzel) - Finished 1st
Last Week's Darkhorse - Dec. 13-16 (Bjorn Akesson) - Finished tied for 25th
 
NOTES:
The European Tour concludes its stay in South Africa this week with the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban. This is the third straight event in South Africa to start the 2013 season. Scott Jameison captured the Nelson Mandela Championship and Charl Schwartzel won the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December.

Eleven of the top-50 players in the world are scheduled to compete, led by South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Ernie Els. Oosthuizen is the highest- ranked player in the field at No. 6 in the world. The 2010 British Open champion had two wins in 2012 and lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson at the Masters. Els is coming off a solid 2012 season, which saw him win his fourth major championship at the British Open. Other major champions in the field are Darren Clarke (2011 British Open), South African Retief Goosen (2001 and 2004 U.S. Open), Paul Lawrie (1999 British Open) and Jose Maria Olazabal (1994 and 1999 Masters). Goosen is playing for the first time since August due to back surgery.

This event features an exclusive field of 33 proven winners. It is reserved for European Tour players who won a tournament on the 2012 European Tour schedule and the winners from the first two events of 2013. Current tour members under the age of 50 with more than 10 victories are also invited.

This tournament will be played at Durban Country Club, which opened in 1922. Durban Country Club has hosted the South African Open Championship 17 times, with the last time coming in December, 2010, when Els won the title.

Volvo is the most prolific sponsor in European Tour history. This tournament marked the ninth different Volvo sponsored event since 1972 and 27th consecutive year of Volvo sponsorship on the European Tour.

Last year, South African Branden Grace toppled two of his home country's golfing icons, Els and Goosen, in a playoff to win his second straight event on the European Tour. Grace birdied the first playoff hole to best Els and Goosen. He earned his first tour victory a week prior at the Joburg Open. Grace would go on to win two more times in 2012 to claim a season-high four European Tour victories.

In 2011, Paul Casey parred the final hole to capture the inaugural tournament by one stroke over Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez. Casey notched his 11th European Tour victory and first since the 2009 BMW PGA Championship. Casey finished at 20-under 268 for the tournament.

The European Tour travels to the Gulf next week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates, where Robert Rock won last year. Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose are expected to make their season debuts.

01/08 15:47:17 ET

As of January 8, 2013, at 03:47 PM ET

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