Volvo today announced their new golf strategy, bringing the Championship to geographical areas of interest for Volvo’s businesses. The strategic move will see the Championship rotate between a few host destinations, acknowledging the true global nature and growing global appeal of golf. Volvo and IMG also announced that the 2013 Volvo World Match Play Championship will be played at the breathtaking Thracian Cliffs Course in Bulgaria from the 16th to the 19th May. For the 48th edition of the event Volvo and IMG will work closely with the Bulgarian Government in conjunction with the national Golf Association.
The last three editions of the Volvo World Match Play Championships were held at Finca Cortesín in Spain and this move to the much-lauded Gary Player designed signature course marks the first time a full European Tour event will be played in Bulgaria. Framed by rugged coastal cliffs and the vast blue of the Black Sea, which can be viewed from each and every hole, Thracian Cliffs is arguably one of the most dramatic golf courses on earth. Gary Player once commented, "You will not find a golf course like this anywhere else on the planet." Underlining the unique features of this new venue, the Thracian Cliffs has also been called the ‘Pebble Beach of Europe’.
The Championship has evolved considerably since moving from Wentworth in 2009, successfully securing a world-class field by qualification on merit, increasing the field to 24 players and revising the format. The qualified players are divided into eight groups of three players to be played out on Thursday and Friday with 16 players progressing to Saturday’s knock-out stage with the semi-finals and final played on Sunday.
Per Ericsson, President of Volvo Event Management explained, “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. 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”.
He continued, “We are delighted to be working with the Bulgarian Government and the Bulgarian Golf Association and are thrilled that they have committed their support to this prestigious and historic Championship. We will announce future venues in due course and while our focus is firmly on delivering a magnificent 2013 Championship as our inaugural event at Thracian Cliffs, we then plan to rotate the Volvo World Match Play Championship between a few very special venues around the world of which Thracian Cliffs is the first.”
Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, Mr Boyko Borissov, in announcing his Government’s support commented, “This is a real coup for Bulgaria being chosen to host such a prestigious international tournament with a rich heritage and sporting traditions. 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 added, “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. I am looking forward to welcoming the world's best golfers and the successful staging of the tournament will only enhance Bulgaria in becoming recognized as one of the established golfing destinations around the world".
Guy Kinnings, Global Co-Managing Director IMG added, “We are very grateful to the Bulgarian Government for their support and all the work the Bulgarian Golf Association has done to make this possible. The Volvo World Match Play Championship was founded in the same year as IMG and now, more than 50 years on, we are delighted that, with the help of our partners, Volvo, this historic Championship continues to ‘trail-blaze,’ going to new venues as was McCormack’s vision back in 1964.”
Kinnings continued, "In the last decade, IMG's business interests in Eastern Europe, and Bulgaria in particular, have really developed and bringing such a globally significant tournament to the region was always our ambition. The decision to rotate the Championship around different countries in the future is another innovative move which allows the event to remain fresh annually. While these future venues are yet to be announced, it is no secret that we are considering Northern Europe, including the UK, as a possible future destination."
George O’Grady CBE, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “On behalf of everyone at The European Tour, and particularly our Members, we thank Volvo and IMG for their continued support of this Championship and The European Tour. I would also like to thank the Bulgarian Golf Association who have worked hard to secure the Volvo World Match Play Championship and I know their support will be rewarded when the world’s best players travel to their country in May.”
Krassimir Guergov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Golf Association, commented, “This is just the most amazing news and I am delighted that Bulgaria has been able to demonstrate its credentials to Volvo, IMG and the European Tour in order to make this happen. We will now concentrate on helping IMG and Volvo deliver a world class Championship that will showcase Thracian Cliffs and Bulgaria.”
Defending Champion and member of the successful 2012 Ryder Cup Team, Nicolas Colsaerts, on hearing the news said, “This just demonstrates the global appeal of golf and the innovative approach that Volvo and IMG show time after time. 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 in May next year. 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 I hope that continues to be the case in 2013.”