MX23RW : Friday, September 21 06:41:38

Graeme McDowell: World Match Play needs to return to "former glory"

Defending champion Graeme McDowell encourages the European Tour to restore the World Match Play, which takes place in Kent this week, to "its former glory".

Graeme McDowell has suggested that the European Tour has a responsibility to restore the World Match Play to the prestigious tournament that it once was.

The Northern Irishman defends his title at the London Golf Club this week, but only one of the world's top 10 is competing for a trophy which has previously been won by the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

The invitation of American Ryder Cup hotshot Patrick Reed has generated excitement, and McDowell is also pleased that the event has returned to England after being hosted in Spain and Bulgaria, but thinks that plenty more can be done to boost a championship which boasts celebrated history and a lucrative £2m purse.

"This event needs to be reinstated to its former glory and we'll do everything we can to support that," he told reporters. "This is a step in the right direction this week. Coming back to its spiritual home in London, not Wentworth, but close enough.

"Yes, we are missing a few headliners like Rory [McIlroy] and [Lee] Westwood but it's a very solid field with a phenomenal purse and an exciting invite in Patrick.

"Hopefully the sun shines and we get a good crowd and a quality line-up in the knockout stages on Saturday and Sunday so we can put on a show and showcase this championship. When you look at the trophy and the names on it, this tournament deserves a great spot on the calendar."

Long-time sponsors Volvo revealed last week that they would be withdrawing their support, leaving the tournament which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year without a title sponsor from 2015.

McDowell began his Match Play campaign with a 3&2 victory over Frenchman Alexander Levy on Wednesday.

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Rory McIlroy of Europe laughs during practice ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 24, 2014
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