The Volvo World Matchplay celebrates its 50th anniversary this October as the competition descends on the International Course at the London Golf Club in Kent.
Since it’s inaugural event in 1964 it has been a tournament that has attracted the big names and produced some fine golf. Arnold Palmer was the first man to claim the World Matchplay crown and he his far from the only star name to have his name associated with this competition.
South African Gary Player and the late great Seve Ballesteros have claimed ten World Matchplay titles between them, going to show that this is not historically a competition that the top players take lightly.
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In recent history it has been another South African, Ernie Els, who has dominated proceedings winning the competition seven times since 1994. Els remains the most successful player in World Matchplay history with his seven victories putting him two ahead of Player and Ballesteros.
After taking twenty four attempts for a Brit to take the title, victories have come a lot easier for players from these shores in recent memory. Ian Woosnam was the first British golfer to win the event in 1984 and more recently Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Ross Fisher and Graeme McDowell have been crowned champions since the turn of the century.
McDowell is the current holder of the title after he defeated Thongchai Jaidee 2&1 in the final in Kavarna, Bulgaria. He defeated Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts in the second round in a repeat of the 2012 final on his way to victory and G-Mac will be keen to continue his good form in this event this year.
The nature of matchplay golf requires a different set of skills to that of stroke play golf, which is why the likes of Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson are often seeded in the top ten for the event despite their ranking suggesting otherwise. The different pressures required make looking at ranking and form futile as it all comes down to who can keep their head when pitched one on one against another top level pro.