The first European Tour event to be played in Bulgaria has gotten underway after Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Jamie Donaldson opened up the 2013 Volvo World Match Play Championship.
Under a flawless azure sky, matched only by the vast ultramarine Black Sea that frames the spectacular Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort in Kavarna, the Spaniard got the 48th edition of the World Match Play started with a stinging driver propelled straight down the middle of the 457-yard opening hole.
From the elevated first tee position of Gary Player’s majestic signature course, Welshman Donaldson also got his championship underway with aplomb, sending a high drive with a hint of draw far down the par four’s fairway.
The pair halved the first two holes in par before Fernandez-Castano birdied the third to move into a one hole lead, after which the all-Scandinavian clash of Thorbjorn Olesen and Carl Pettersson also both started with pars before the Swede moved one up as the Dane could only bogey the short second.
Perched atop the rugged limestone cliffs of the Cape Kaliakra, Thracian Cliffs and the host country of Bulgaria this week becomes the 40th different destination visited by The European Tour in its 41-year history.
With a rich heritage as the longest-running individual match play competition in golf, and 18 Major champions having previously triumphed in the 50 years of the World Match Play’s existence, the 24 world-class golfers on show will battle it out over the next four days for the coveted trophy and its €800,000 first prize.
The group games will be played on Thursday and Friday with the top two in each group advancing to the last 16. Those ties will be played on Saturday morning with the quarter-finals to follow and the semi-finals and final on Sunday.