Bulgaria to host European Tour event next May

The European Tour will stage a tournament in Bulgaria for the

first time after deciding to rotate the World Match Play

Championship between locations across the continent.

After three years at the Finca Cortesin resort in southern

Spain, the tournament will be played at the Gary Player-designed

Thracian Cliffs Course in Bulgaria beside the Black Sea from May

16-19 next year as part of plans to bring ”the championship to

geographical areas of interest” for its sponsor, Volvo.

”This is a real coup for Bulgaria being chosen to host such a

prestigious international tournament with a rich heritage and

sporting traditions,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said

in a statement on Monday. ”The recent growth of golf in our

country will have the opportunity to be showcased around the

world.”

The World Match Play Championship was staged at European Tour’s

headquarters at Wentworth from 1964 to 2007, before the tournament

was expanded to a 24-player field in 2009 and switched to

Spain.

The event has been won by some of the top names in golf since

Arnold Palmer captured the inaugural title 48 years ago. Ernie Els

won it seven times between 1994 and 2007, and Nicolas Colsaerts is

the reigning champion after beating Graeme McDowell in May.

”This just demonstrates the global appeal of golf,” said

Colsaerts, a member of Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning team in Medinah

last month. ”I’ve never been to Bulgaria, but I’ve heard great

things about the country and Thracian Cliffs and I can’t wait to

defend my title there.”

Organizers declined to say which other courses are in the

tournament rotation.

”While these future venues are yet to be announced, it is no

secret that we are considering northern Europe, including the U.K.,

as a possible future destination,” said Guy Kinnings, global

co-managing director of IMG, one of the tournament’s

organizers.

Bulgaria has no players in the top 1,000 of the world golf

rankings.

The Thracian Cliffs Course has been described as the ”Pebble

Beach of Europe” because of its unique views.