Johannesburg - Four-time Major winner Ernie Els will headline a star-studded field at the 2014 Volvo Golf Champions at the Durban Country Club from January 9 to 12.
Els will be in search of his first Volvo Golf Champions title, having lost out in the past two years to his talented young countrymen Branden Grace in 2012 and this year's winner Louis Oosthuizen, who are both confirmed in the field.
“I am really looking forward to starting my year at the Volvo Golf Champions at the Durban Country Club,” Els said in a statement on Wednesday.
“I have had some great wins there, and I really enjoy the course, and it is always extra special to play in front of my home fans.
“It is going to be a very tough week with so many excellent players in the field.”
The 20-year-old Matteo Manassero will head up the challenge of the next generation competing for an increased prize fund of approximately R42 million, with more star players to be announced next week.
Els will be joined by European Ryder Cup stalwart Miguel Angel Jimenez, three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington, 2010 Open Champion Darren Clarke, eight-time Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie, 17-time European Tour winner Thomas Bjorn, and two-time Major winner Jose Maria Olazabal.
Between them, they have won 142 European Tour titles and have 170 years of experience playing on the European Tour.
By contrast, Italian star Manassero, a four-time winner on the European Tour before his 20th birthday, is one of a talented group of youngsters looking to emulate the successes of their elders.
He will be joined by a host of 20-somethings that include American Peter Uihlein, Victor Dubuisson of France and Korea's Jin Jeong.
This exclusive, limited-field event of European winners will also enjoy a substantial head start over their peers at the beginning of the year.
Only European Tour players who have won an event on the previous year's international schedule and current Tour Members with more than 10 European Tour victories qualify.
Manassero said he hoped to get off to a better start than this year's tournament, which he opened with a 75 before playing three decent rounds to finish in the top 10.
“It is the perfect way for me to open my season, playing against such an elite field full of so many amazing champions on a course that really suits my game,” Manassero said.
“I hope I can continue how I left off last year and have a great week to kick start my season and give myself the chance to win this very prestigious title.”