Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Bulgaria's 'Pebble Beach' to host top European golf event

October 22, 2012 -- Updated 2212 GMT (0612 HKT)
Nicolas Colsaerts will defend his World Match Play title at a new European Tour venue in May.
Nicolas Colsaerts will defend his World Match Play title at a new European Tour venue in May.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bulgaria will host a full European Tour event for the first time in May 2013
  • The World Match Play tournament will begin a new rotation of venues
  • Its sponsor Volvo is seeking to take it to areas of business interest
  • European Tour circuit moves to China this week for a newly-sanctioned event

(CNN) -- The European Tour has long sought to grow golf outside the continent, taking top players around the world to Asia, the Middle East and Africa, while its second-tier circuit even visited South America this year.

Its latest bid to break new ground -- the largely untapped golfing market of Eastern Europe -- has been driven by the desires of one of its major sponsors.

One of the tour's premier events, the World Match Play Championship, will next year move home from economically-stricken Spain to Bulgaria -- which doesn't have a player ranked in the world's top 1,500 professionals, but has attracted car manufacturer Volvo.

"Volvo was the first company to bring a European Tour event to China and we are the first to take a full European Tour event to Bulgaria, as Eastern Europe is an important business area for us," the Swedish corporation's president of event management said on Monday.

"We are very proud to still be delivering ground-breaking innovations as we mark our 130th professional golf tournament. Everyone at Volvo looks forward to welcoming Bulgaria to the 'family' of exclusive host destination partners."

Hailed by owner Donald Trump as "the world's greatest golf course," the American's new Scottish project mixes breathtaking views from elevated tees with classical links bunkers and wild rough. Dramatic, tall sand dunes frame many of the photogenic holes at Trump International. The true test of the course's standing will be its longevity and whether it matures into a stern test of championship golf. Hailed by owner Donald Trump as "the world's greatest golf course," the American's new Scottish project mixes breathtaking views from elevated tees with classical links bunkers and wild rough. Dramatic, tall sand dunes frame many of the photogenic holes at Trump International. The true test of the course's standing will be its longevity and whether it matures into a stern test of championship golf.
Trump International Links
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
The world\'s best golf courses The world's best golf courses
Duke supports young golfers
LPGA winner reveals Olympic ambitions
Greatest sporting drama of all time?

The tournament was staged at England's Wentworth from 1964 to 2009, and this year was the last at its second home at Finca Cortesin.

Next year's venue, Thracian Cliffs, has been hailed as Bulgaria's version of the famous American coastal course Pebble Beach.

"You will not find a golf course like this anywhere else on the planet," said its designer, South Africa golf legend Gary Player, who won the World Match Play title five times between 1965-1973.

Volvo, which also sponsors the European Tour's China Open and Golf Champions event in South Africa, said the World Match Play will be rotated in areas of interest to its business.

"We will announce future venues in due course," Ericsson said.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said it was a "real coup" to land the tournament.

"The vast media coverage will deliver a reputable boost for Bulgaria and our tourism industry. The recent growth of golf in our country will have the opportunity to be showcased around the world," he said.

"Volvo is setting a wonderful example to other international companies, as this shows they view Eastern Europe and Bulgaria as an area of interest for their future business development."

Nicolas Colsaerts, who helped Europe to win the Ryder Cup against the U.S. in a thrilling finale last month, will defend his World Match Play title at Thracian Hills from May 16-19.

"I've never been to Bulgaria but I've heard great things about the country and Thracian Cliffs," the Belgian said.

"Having won both the 2011 Volvo China Open and the 2012 Volvo World Match Play Championship, I think Volvo might be my lucky charm so so I hope that continues to be the case in 2013."

Colsaerts will be one of 11 Ryder Cup winners playing at the European Tour's BMW Masters in China this week, including world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and his predecessor Luke Donald.

McIlroy won the inaugural tournament at Lake Malaren, near Shanghai, last year when it was a smaller event with no sanctioning but offering a $2 million first prize -- the biggest on offer in golf. This time the winner will take home €888,560 ($1.16 million)

"To go to back and win for the second time would really put the icing on the cake of what has already been a great year for me," said the 23-year-old Northern Irishman, who claimed his second major title at August's PGA Championship.

Next Monday he will take on world No. 2 Tiger Woods in an exhibition match at Jinsha Lake Golf Club in Zhengzhou.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 1343 GMT (2143 HKT)
Golfers at at Barkway Park don't seem to concerned and have been taking pictures and videos of the bird when it appears on the greens and fairways.
A runaway ostrich-like bird hiding near an English golf course has caused quite a stir. Some say it's dangerous, while others are cashing in.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Eagles may be thin on the ground for most golfers at the Bear Trace course at Harrison Bay. But up in the treetops, it's a different matter.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
When someone tells you to go jump in a lake, sometimes it's best to take their advice. "I've never been so scared," says golfer Pablo Larrazabal.
Bubba Watson is the Masters king, but can he win a major away from Augusta? Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue has the lowdown.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer won his first major at Augusta, played there with the U.S. President and made a record 50 consecutive Masters appearances.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
He is remembered for designing one of the world's most famous golf courses, but the man behind Augusta died pleading to be paid.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Take a trip around Augusta. From Eisenhower's toppled tree to the fiendishly-difficult Amen Corner, the Masters' home venue has it all.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
He's been mistaken for Tiger Woods' ball-boy, but that won't be the case when amateur star Matt Fitzpatrick tees off at the Masters.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson shows us how to hit the long ball.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1827 GMT (0227 HKT)
CNN's Shane O'Donoghue meets Billy Payne -- the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
They carry a bag for a living but these men can bring home six-figure incomes. Welcome to the world of a caddy.
CNN's Alex Thomas welcomes golf opening itself up to women, but questions the motives behind the decision.
ADVERTISEMENT