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January 18, 2012

Per Ericsson

Guy Kinnings

Keith Waters


PER ERICSSON:テつ Welcome, I recognise a lot of faces.テつ I'm Per Ericsson and in charge of the tournament on the Volvo side.テつ I'll say some words and I'll start to talk about‑‑ I'll talk about the word special, many times today, because this is special.
First of all, special is South African, Fancourt.テつ It's special because we have a long relationship with South Africa and that is probably the reason why business‑wise, Volvo has been involved in cars for the group side in South Africa.テつ The South Africans in the crowd should be proud of having a world‑class venue like Fancourt, because this is really a special venue.
And talking about venues, I've seen a lot of venues around the world.テつ It's not just about the hotel and the courses.テつ It's very much about the people running it.テつ I'm very impressed by the people and many management of Fancourt.テつ That's the special part, South Africa and Fancourt are special.
The Volvo Golf Champions is a very special tournament itself.テつ It is actually the first true Tournament of Champions for The European Tour, the first edition of just having the champions.テつ The qualification criteria are quite easy to understand.
You have to win on the Tour the previous year to get in, and if you are lucky enough to have won more than ten tournaments on The European Tour, you also make your way in.テつ That's the only way to make this golf tournament, the Volvo Golf Champions.
This year, 35 players from 14 countries, eight players from South Africa, which is good for us being here, has an incredible statistic for quality.テつ Out of those 35 players, they have all together won 235 European Tour wins, 41 PGA Tour wins, and 14 Majors.テつ It's by far the best ever European Tour field in South Africa.テつ So the Volvo Golf Champions is very special.
There is a special thing about Volvo Golf Champions and it's something we call the Amateur Pro Competition that is going to be held on Friday.テつ We call it playing with the pros.テつ As you probably know, we are hosting two tournaments here in Fancourt.テつ We have a customer/client, corporate golf running all year round in the rest of the world, more than 25 countries and 60,000 players and the world final is here and 55 players are playing this morning, and the best 18 of them will actually have the chance to play together with the pros on the real tournament on real TV, live, on Friday.
And that's really, really special for our clients to have that opportunity; for any golfer to have that opportunity, and it's also special for golf.テつ I cannot think of another sport where actually you can do that without it looking ridiculous.テつ Imagine yourself playing tennis with Nadal or someone in a double at Wimbledon.テつ It will look ridiculous.テつ In this case, it will not, because of the handicap system.テつ It's a very good thing for golf as a sport.
I will end with actually, if I may say, so Volvo, as a special sponsor, if I may say so, this is actually our 75th tournament on The European Tour that we have sponsored and organised.テつ We have spent, and this is a fact that I want you to write down, we have spent more than 300 million USD just in prize funds over the years.テつ I think that makes us a special sponsor, as well.
And before I continue to regard myself as special, I think I will quit and say thank you for coming.テつ (Laughter).
GUY KINNINGS:テつ Thank you very much.テつ Thank you, Per.テつ Just following on on behalf of IMG, we have actually staged, I think it's 750 tournaments (laughter).テつ But, obviously only the last four we did in partnership with Volvo are the ones we are most proud of.テつ We do obviously love the special relationship; I'm using the right word, with Volvo, and the innovative style Per and the team brings to this.
As I said we have run an awful lot of events in our history but it's been some time since we have run one in South Africa and it's the first time we have ever run one which is a tournament of champions on The European Tour and I think it's only appropriate that we should be doing that right now in South Africa.
IMG was founded a long time ago off the back of Mark McCormack signing what became the big three, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player; Gary, who remains a client to this day, and whose fantastic links course provides this brilliant stage for Europe's best.
Talking of clients, I must apologise on behalf of our defending champion, Mr.Paul Casey, who is frankly beyond disappointed not to be defending his title here this week after he took an unfortunate and slightly unplanned tumble while snowboarding in the slopes of Aspen.テつ He had assured me he was on the range practising, but sadly it wasn't the case.テつ He is distraught not to be here.テつ He will hopefully be back soon and look forward to hopefully making up for that hopefully next year.
It's also very nice to see some other of our clients around here, and I'm just relieved that John Bland has chosen not to come in here and heckle as he had been threatening to do.テつ I would like to thank all of the players.テつ It's a fantastic field and it is down to their support, as well as the amazing support of the sponsors and our partners, particularly some of those sort of local experts who have invested a lot of time to support us here.
I think particularly of Retief, Ernie, Louis and there are others, and I think it's‑‑ I've been told by Blandy and Retief that I absolutely should come here and I have failed to do that.テつ I have now done what I promised I would, and I can now see why they have been extolling the virtues of Fancourt.
It's also fantastic to see the riches of South African golf gathered here this week and the field is littered with global but specifically South African superstars and Major Champions and as I said, it is only appropriate we should be doing an event like this in South Africa.テつ I think it's a huge credit to everyone who has been invested so much in that success.テつ I think of someone like Johan Rupert and others at the Sunshine Tour.
Our thanks obviously to our partners in this event, The European Tour and European Tour Productions, without whom none of this would be possible; and also to the Sunshine Tour, as I said, for assistance in stages.
Particularly, and Per has said it far better than I, but thanks again to our hosts here at Fancourt who have provided this great arena.テつ The course is in fantastic condition, facilities are world‑class and thanks to Carl and everybody who has made us so welcome.
It would be wrong for me not to thank my fantasy tick event here at IMG who quite frankly make up for me and have done a wonderful job in getting everything ready with the Volvo team, so, thank you and I wish everyone a good week.
KEITH WATERS:テつ Thank you and good afternoon, everybody.テつ I would like to thank the Sunshine Tour for making us so welcome this week.テつ This is essentially a European Tour event with European Tour winners, so we are very grateful for the Sunshine Tour to allow us to play here and for all of the cooperation on the ground.
Like Guy said, the team here at IMG are very professional and we are delighted to be working with them once again and look forward to be working for another 750 tournaments.テつ Also to Fancourt, it is a special place.テつ I remember coming here for the South African Open in 2006 and I think the players realised what a special place it was, and it is a very, very challenging golf course, so although some of the world's best players are here, it will certainly be a challenge this week.
And of course to Per and Volvo, The European Tour and Volvo have had a relationship now for more than 25 years, and we look forward to that continuing for another 25.

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