World Match Play moves to Spain

The World Match Play, usually held at Wentworth in Surrey, is to move to the Finca Cortesin course in Spain amongst a host of changes to the competition due to start again in 2009.

The tournament is taking a break this season and will resume with 16 players competing in a round-robin format during the early stages of the contest.

The prize fund, under new sponsors Volvo, will be around £2.5m with the winner taking home around £592,000.

Ernie Els earned £1m after he won a record seventh title last October.

The move to the Finca Cortesin course in Andalucia will be a blow to English golf fans who have swarmed to Wentworth since the competition's inception in 1964 to watch what was recently dubbed "the richest prize in golf".

And it comes at a time when the season-ending Volvo Masters, which is to finish this year at Valderrama in southern Spain, moves to the Middle East and is re-named the Dubai World Championship.

The new Match Play format will have a worldwide feel to it as the four groups of four players will include the highest ranked player from each of Europe, Africa/Middle East, North America, South America, Asia and Australasia.

Els, who already qualifies for the event after beating Angel Cabrera in last year's final, will also be joined by the top four leading players in the world rankings and those from the European Tour Race to Dubai - the new name for the Order of Merit.

The top player from each of the four groups will then play in two 36-hole semi-finals to decide the finalists on Sunday.

Although it often features the world's top players, the competition has struggled to recruit some American golfers and Tiger Woods has only featured twice, most recently losing in the first round in 2006.

From: BBC