Oct 15, 904 days ago

2014 Volvo World Matchplay preview

2014 Volvo World Matchplay preview

Sixteen of the top golfers from across the world head to Kent this week for the 50th World Matchplay championship.

The qualifiers are an intriguing bunch and feature six Ryder Cup stars and some in-form players from the European Tour. With £650,000 on offer to the winner at the London Golf Club, there’s plenty to play for over five days of matchplay golf.

Keep reading for our preview of the 2014 Volvo World Matchplay Championship.

How the tournament works

The 16 players receive an invitation based on their performance in certain European Tour events and in the 2014 Tour Race to Dubai rankings.

They are then split into four groups of four and each man plays the others in his group over the opening three days in a matchplay format. Winners receive two points while there is a point on offer for a tie.

The top two in each group qualify for the knockout stages over the weekend.

Ryder Cup stars the favourites for victory

Graeme McDowell started the ball rolling for Europe’s Ryder Cup team on Sunday at Gleneagles by coming from three down to beat Jordan Spieth 2 and 1. McDowell is the reigning Volvo Matchplay champion and is the man to beat this weekend.

“I’m happy to be back in London where this tournament belongs,” said McDowell, who has not competed since The Ryder Cup. “I’m excited about my defence. It’s nice to not have to switch gears from my couple weeks off from my match play frame of mind.

“I was able to keep the match play sort of switch flicked the last couple weeks, and look forward to coming into this week and continuing hopefully where I left off at Gleneagles and win a couple matches and get myself into the nitty-gritty over the weekend.”

McDowell’s fourballs and foursomes partner at the Ryder Cup was Victor Dubuisson who demonstrated his ability in this form of the game by finishing runner-up in the WGC Matchplay in early 2014.

Dubuission has been one of the European Tour’s stars in 2014 and should qualify from a group that includes Stephen Gallacher, Shane Lowry and Pablo Larrazabal. He is a good bet to become the first Frenchman to win this tournament.

In-form players could be the ones to watch

While all eyes may be on Ryder Cup stars Henrik Stenson and Jamie Donaldson it could be worth following some of the in-form players on the Euroepan Tour.

Before a disappointing T93 at the Alfred Dunhill, Joost Luiten had been the Tour’s form player. The Dutchman’s win at the recent Wales Open was his third top five finish in a row and the 22 year old rising star has earned over €550,000 in prize money in his last six tournaments. He could go well here.

To qualify for the knockout stages, Luiten is likely to have to beat last week’s European Tour winner Alexander Levy. The 24 year old shot a second round 61 to win the rain-affected Portugal Masters, adding the title to his Volvo China Open win earlier in the season. The Frenchman is another one to follow at longer odds.

The one American in the field was convinced by his wife to play in this event. Patrick Reed was one of the few positives that the Americans could take from their Ryder Cup defeat, bagging 3.5 points at Gleneagles.

The Texan is relishing his return to the UK. “It would be a dream come true to win an event like this,” he said.

“To be a part of the history, a part of the guys that have won this event, just definitely means I’m moving in the right direction and playing some really good golf and that I’m on top of my game.”

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