Els boosts Fancourt event
Johannesburg - Darren Clarke, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington gave the Volvo Golf Champions a major boost on Thursday, confirming that they will play in the European Tour's first-ever true "tournament of champions" event.
The tournament will be the first fully-sanctioned European tour event played in South Africa at The Links at Fancourt, from January 19 to 22.
A number of high-profile players have already confirmed their participation including Major winners Retief Goosen, Paul Lawrie, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, and European Tour stars such as Thomas Bjorn, Paul Casey, Nicolas Colsaerts, Miguel Agel Jimenez, Tom Lewis, Matteo Manassero, Colin Montgomerie and Alexander Noren in competing for a €350 000 first prize, and a prize fund of €2 million.
"I love playing in South Africa and have won five of my European Tour titles here," said Els.
"I have great memories of playing at the Links at Fancourt, in professional events and when on holiday here.
"South African golf is in great shape at the moment which is apparent by the number of South Africans in the field."
Three-time Major winner, Padraig Harrington, is also looking forward to a fresh start in 2012 with a recent return to form boding well for this charismatic man from Dublin.
Swede Robert Karlsson, winner of the 2010 Dubai World Championship, qualifies as a member of the elite group of Tour stars including Goosen, Jimenez and Montgomerie, who have more than ten career wins on the European Tour.
The tournament is an exclusive, limited field event with no halfway cut, open only to European Tour players who have won an event on the previous year's European Tour International Schedule, the only exception being current Tour Members with more than 10 European Tour victories.