Villegas, Poulter to add flair to Johnnie Walker Classic

November 11, 2008
PGA TOUR staff

PERTH, Australia -- World No. 7 Camilo Villegas and Ian Poulter, ranked 25th, will add a touch of flair and flamboyance to the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Western Australia when Asia Pacific's premier luxury golf event tees off February 19-22 at The Vines Resort & Country Club.


Colombia's Villegas, one of the most exciting young talents in the game today whose swashbuckling style grabbed the attention of the golfing world in 2008, and Poulter, well known for his flamboyant dress sense both on and off the course, will line up alongside Englishmen Lee Westwood and Paul Casey as well as Australia's Great White Shark, Greg Norman.

"The 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic field is shaping up to be one of the strongest and most colorful we have ever had in the 19-year history of this prestigious tournament," commented David Gates, Global Brand Director for Johnnie Walker.

"With Villegas and Poulter joining a host of truly international golfing stars from the top echelons of the European, Asian and Australasian Tours, the action on the course in Perth is guaranteed to be highly competitive and extremely exciting. Combine this with the wonderful backdrop of Western Australia and the fantastic off-course entertainment that Johnnie Walker traditionally organizes and we are in for another spectacular Johnnie Walker Classic."

With his sultry Latin looks, 26-year-old Villegas exploded onto the international golfing stage with two straight victories on the PGA TOUR in September at the BMW Championship and the prestigious TOUR Championship presented by Coco-Cola. Those victories secured him the second-place spot behind Vijay Singh in the FedExCup. In doing so, Villegas made the record books by becoming the first Colombian to win on the PGA TOUR. Overall, his 2008 performances saw the Florida resident surge up the in the Official World Golf Ranking and earn him almost $4.5 million in prize money. A professional since 2004, Villegas is known as "Spiderman" because of the low-to-the-ground crouching method he employs to line up his putts. The charismatic Colombian has also been heralded as one of America's "hottest bachelors" by the People magazine.

Poulter's most recent win at the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan at the end of 2007 and a string of consistent performances this year have helped him climb to the highest echelons of the game. Returning to his native England for this year's British Open at Royal Birkdale, the 32-year-old snatched the second-place spot behind Padraig Harrington after a superb final round 69. Then, in September's Ryder Cup at Valhalla, Poulter finished the week as the highest points scorer on the European Team, more than justifying the wild card bestowed on him by Captain Nick Faldo.

Earlier this year Poulter brought his own brand of 'Bollywood Bling' to the Johnnie Walker Classic in India when he played in customized outfits that reflected the luxury and character of Johnnie Walker Gold Label. Each outfit was extravagantly decorated with the iconic Johnnie Walker Striding Man using an incredible 40,000 different colored gold and black Swarovski crystals. There is little doubt that the popular Poulter will once again wow the crowds with his flamboyant fashion and thrilling golfing style in Perth in February.

Over the past 18 years the Johnnie Walker Classic has been played in eight different countries and 13 different golf clubs around the Asia Pacific region. The locations have included China in 2005 and, for the first time earlier this year, India, which reflects the brand's "KEEP WALKING" philosophy of continuous progress.

The tournament's tradition of attracting fields of the highest caliber has meant that its past winners read like a Who's Who of golf. Since its establishment in 1990, the Johnnie Walker Classic has been won by the likes of Tiger Woods (1998 & 2000), Nick Faldo (1990 & 1993), Greg Norman (1994), Ernie Els (1997 & 2003), Retief Goosen (2002) and Adam Scott (2005).

It will be the fourth visit to Perth, Western Australia for the Johnnie Walker Classic and the fifth time the event has been staged in Australia following its Antipodean debut back in 1997 at the Hope Island Golf Club.

The Johnnie Walker Classic, presented by the world's No.1 selling Scotch whisky, is owned by DIAGEO, the world's leading premium drinks business, and managed -- as it has been since the very first event -- by IMG, the world's premier sports, lifestyle management and marketing company. Major partners Eventscorp, MasterCard and Rolex are proud to support the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic.

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