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Poulter ready for cut and thrust of Match Play Poulter ready for cut and thrust of Match Play


Ian Poulter defends his Volvo World Match Play title this week as 24 global stars from 13 nationalities gather at Finca Cortesin for The European Tour’s return to Spain.

The 47th edition of this historic event brings together a cosmopolitan blend of youth and experience featuring five Major Champions, including the reigning Open Champion Darren Clarke and Paul Lawrie, who will be competing in his 500th European Tour event, and ten debutants in the unique match play format.

Poulter is aiming to become the first player to successfully defend the title since Ernie Els completed his second hat-trick of victories in 2004. Seve Ballesteros, Hale Irwin and Gary Player are the only other players to have retained the title.

Twelve months ago Poulter confirmed his reputation as one of the game’s great match play exponents when he defeated Luke Donald in the final, and he will be looking to repeat that performance on his first appearance of the season on European soil.

"I love the cut and thrust of match play and find it a refreshing change from the usual stroke play format we play week in week out on the Tour,” said Poulter. "And with the fact it is Ryder Cup year, I think it will be even more exciting with every match from the group stages to the final a chance for aspiring team members to impress Captain Olazábal in what is our final chance to play match player before Medinah.”

Rafael Cabrera Bello, Sergio Garcia and Alvaro Quiros carry the home hopes while South African Branden Grace is targeting a clean sweep of Volvo titles following his successes in the Volvo Golf Champions and Volvo China Open, in addition to the Joburg Open, having only graduated from the Qualifying School six months ago. He is bidding to become the first player to win four times in the season after graduation.

Grace is one of four South Africans in the field along with Retief Goosen, who will be making his 11th appearance in the Championship this week – the most of any player in the field -  Jbe’ Kruger and 2011 Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel.

Robert Karlsson received a late call up after sponsor’s invite Paul Casey, the 2006 Champion, was forced to withdraw after aggravating the shoulder injury which ruled him out of action earlier this season.

England is represented by five players, the most of any nation, followed by South Africa with four, Spain (3), Northern Ireland (2), Sweden (2) plus Australia, Belgium, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Scotland, United States.

The players, divided into eight groups of three, play in a round-robin group format on Thursday and Friday. This will decide which 16 players progress to Saturday’s knock-out stage with the semi-finals and final played on Sunday. The first 16 players have been seeded based upon their Official World Ranking Points as of Monday 14 May 2012. The eight un-seeded players will be drawn at random on Tuesday 15 May 2012 at 13:30 local time.



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