UPDATE 1-Golf-Bulgaria first as country to host World Match Play

Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:33pm IST

* World Match Play going to Black Sea resort

* Course dubbed 'Pebble Beach of Europe' (Adds last three paras)

By Tony Jimenez

Oct 22 (Reuters) - Bulgaria will host a European Tour event for the first time when the 2013 World Match Play Championship is staged at the Black Sea resort of Thracian Cliffs.

Organisers said in a statement on Monday that the move from Andalucia in Spain, where the tournament has been staged for the last three years, to Bulgaria was part of a plan to rotate the venue of the championship that has been in operation since 1964.

"This is a real coup to be chosen to host such a prestigious international tournament with a rich heritage and sporting tradition," Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said in a news release.

"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."

Some of the biggest names in the sport have won the World Match Play - Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Greg Norman, the late Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and South African Ernie Els who has lifted the trophy a record seven times.

Player designed Thracian Cliffs and the course has been described as the 'Pebble Beach of Europe', a reference to the spectacular championship links in California.

Nicolas Colsaerts, a member of Europe's triumphant Ryder Cup team in Chicago last month, will defend his World Match Play title from May 16-19.

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

Per Ericsson, president of event management for sponsors Volvo, said future venues for the tournament would be announced at a later date.

"While our focus is firmly on delivering a magnificent 2013 championship at Thracian Cliffs, we then plan to rotate the World Match Play between a few very special venues around the world," he added.

Bulgaria has a population of 7.3 million but there are just six courses and about 600 golfers in the country.

Former international soccer players Hristo Stoichkov and Krasimir Balakov are regular participants in local tournaments.

Bulgaria was named the undiscovered golf destination of 2012 by the International Golf Travel Market. (Additional reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Justin Palmer)

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

BJP unlikely to form Jammu & Kashmir govt - polls.  Full Article 

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Economic Pulse

Economic Pulse

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

Down Under

Down Under

Magic Johnson inspires Australia to second test win.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage