Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

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

updated 6:12 PM EDT, Mon October 22, 2012
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
updated 12:09 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
CNN's Living Golf focuses on women's golf, charting the growth of the sport from royal pastime to multi-million dollar machine.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
"I don't know how to paint happy," says golf's poster girl Michelle Wie. "I think it releases a lot of the darker feelings in me."
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Phil Mickelson of the United States talks during a press conference after the United States were defeated by Europe after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland.
If you're a U.S. golf fan, or Tom Watson, look away now.
updated 7:18 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
A ban on uploading social media pictures from the course at Gleneagles was dropped for the Ryder Cup.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
A spot of shopping, the odd spa day and some serious flag waving. Welcome to the life of a Ryder Cup WAG.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Tom Watson has learned plenty in the 21 years since he was last U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but social media is proving to be problematic.
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Patriotism will reach fever pitch when the USA and Europe collide in golf's Ryder Cup ... and it looks like Rickie Fowler has let it go to his head.
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Pressure is inescapable in the cauldron of Ryder Cup competition -- pressure and ping pong.
updated 7:50 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Millions of golf fans were watching on television with great anticipation. All Martin Kaymer could think about was getting his phone out.
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
She's just 19 but Hyo Joo Kim is already showing she's ready for the big time after recording the lowest ever round at a major championship.
updated 7:31 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the 14th green during the third round of The Evian Championship at the Evian Resort Golf Club on September 15, 2013 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
The world's top women golfers will be chasing a $3.25 million prize purse at one of the most stunning courses on the LPGA Tour.
ADVERTISEMENT