Brett Rumford is pursuing an historic third straight European Tour title at the beautiful Thracian Cliffs Golf Resort in Bulgaria this week. Geoff Ogilvy, Australia&aposs other flagbearer at the lucrative Volvo World Matchplay Championship, is trying to recapture the A-game that has almost deserted him. It is the first time Bulgaria has hosted a top-level golf tournament, to be held at a course designed by Gary Player, built just two years ago, and described by Player as “one of the most beautiful golf courses on the planet&apos&apos. It features Black Sea views on eight holes and soaring clifftops, and will make spectacular television viewing. The Volvo World Matchplay has a 24-man field with a Euro 800,000 first prize. The players break into three-man groups for round robin matches on Thursday and Friday, then the top two in each of the eight groups go into the weekend for knockout matches, culminating with Sunday&aposs final. Perth&aposs Rumford, 35, is coming off the best fortnight of his career after he won the Ballantines Championship in South Korea and the Volvo China Open the week after, soaring to the top of the Race to Dubai standings. Previously, he had not won a tournament for more than five years. Already it has been lauded as a big feat in the modern environment. But if Rumford can win this weekend, he will join illustrious company as having won three on the trot. Sir Nick Faldo (1983) and the late Seve Ballesteros (1986) are the only men to have done it. Rumford has Spain&aposs Gonzalo Fernandez Castano and Welshman Jamie Donaldson in his group, while Ogilvy has Richard Sterne of South Africa and Bo Van Pelt, the American. It will be Rumford&aposs first competitive event in matchplay as a professional, taking him back to his amateur days. “I played plenty of match play as an amateur but I haven&apost played match play since I was probably 20 years of age; so a long, long time now,&apos&apos he told europeantour.com this week. “But I really enjoyed match play when I was younger. I thrived on the competition, and obviously the head to head battle, and I like to think of match play as a learned game, as well. “It&aposs very difficult early on to play an experienced match play player, anyway, because it&aposs a completely different mindset, but I&aposm sure I&aposll find my feet once I get into it.&apos&apos Rumford&aposs victories in Asia followed quickly after Adam Scott&aposs Masters triumph at Augusta National in April, and the Western Australian admits he was inspired by Scott&aposs feat. Scott texted him twice after his wins. “I got a couple of text messages [from Scott] which is fantastic, and just one that he said, &aposI woke up this morning and I saw the results and I&aposm just thrilled to bits, I&aposm just really proud of you and it s really inspiring stuff&apos.&apos&apos Rumford cites his switch of coach (to Pete Cowen), caddie (John Roberts) and fitness trainer (Kevin Duffy) with his surge. “It&aposs just really hard work and a more holistic approach,&apos&apos he said. US-based Ogilvy is making a foray to the European tour, where he started his touring golf almost 15 years ago. The Melburnian scaled to No. 3 in the world rankings in 2008, but he has not won a tournament anywhere since his Australian Open win at The Lakes in 2010, a drought by his standards, and his ranking has dropped to 69. Ogilvy&aposs 13th season in the US tells a little about his issues. He has missed seven cuts in just 12 tournaments, including at the Players Championship in Florida last week, but he still managed a second place at the Honda Championship earlier in the year and went top-10 at the British Open Championship as recently as last year. At least matchplay is a favoured format for the 35-year-old. He has won the World Golf Championship Accenture Matchplay twice. “It&aposs a good format for me, probably – hopefully,” Ogilvy told golf.com. “Besides, when am I ever going to go to Bulgaria again. &apos&apos Both Australians will be strongly challenged by a field that includes Ian Poulder, Graeme McDowell, Van Pelt, Peter Hanson and Henrik Stenson.
Author: Martin Blake / Golf.org.au