Thongchai Jaidee congratulates Graeme McDowell after his 2&1 victory (Getty Images)
The world’s best golfers hailed the Volvo World Match Play Championship at Thracian Cliffs Golf and Beach Resort a huge success as Graeme McDowell lifted the trophy to win the title and the €800,000 first prize.
McDowell, who won a tightly-contested final match against Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee to move to Number Seven in the Official World Golf Ranking, said: “It has been a fantastic week and I have enjoyed it very much. Everyone has been so welcoming and I would like to thank everyone here at Thracian Cliffs, the Bulgarian Golf Association and the Bulgarian Government. It will sound easy for me to say because I am standing here with a magnificent trophy in my hands, but I think if you ask all of the players who came here this week they will all tell you how enjoyable it has been to come to Bulgaria.
“We have been so well looked after from start to finish this week by everyone – it has been great. Bulgaria is obviously a fairly new golfing country, but hopefully we have helped start something special in this beautiful land, and we can see a lot more people taking up the game here and really enjoying the sport.”
Semi-finalist Thomas Aiken from South Africa said: “I thought it was fantastic. It’s my first time here, and I would never have thought that Bulgaria would be this beautiful. I think it’s a great destination for European holiday makers. I mean, when you compare it to countries like Spain, I think it's got the same, if not more to offer, and less people. It’s a nice, quiet holiday to get away with the family. It looks like they have got great beaches, so why wouldn't you come?
“It was a fantastic week, Volvo put on a great job for every event they do. It was another spectacular event this week, and the atmosphere was great. Even in a country that is fairly new to golf, we had quite a few spectators out here the last couple of days, and they were very supportive. It’s fantastic golf course – what a spectacular view – and it is also a great course to play, so all in all I thoroughly enjoyed the week. Obviously I’m a little bit disappointed to lose in the semis, but it was a good week nevertheless.”
Per Ericsson, President of Volvo Event Management, said: “At Volvo, we take great pride in being innovative, original and forward-thinking, and we take enormous satisfaction that we are the first to bring a full European Tour event to Bulgaria with our partners, IMG. Thracian Cliffs provided a wonderful stage for this great tournament, and everything about the venue was wonderfully received by the players and we feel our 130th professional golf tournament has been a great triumph.”
Guy Kinnings, Global Managing Director, IMG Golf, the tournament’s co-promoters, said: “It has been a fantastic week of golf, as we celebrated 50 years since the first World Match Play Championship. We are delighted to play a part in highlighting everything that Bulgaria, and specifically Thracian Cliffs, has to offer. We congratulate Volvo on a wonderful 130th event, and also thank the Bulgarian Government, the Bulgarian Golf Association and Thracian Cliffs for all the hard work they have put in to make this event such a tremendous success.
“Graeme is a global star and a very worthy winner of the Volvo World Match Play Championship. Having started the week with the most international field ever assembled, it is very fitting that one of Asia’s greatest golfers, Thongchai Jaidee, should come so close in the final."
Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer of The European Tour, said: “The European Tour would like to congratulate the Bulgarian Government, Volvo, the Bulgarian Golf Association, Thracian Cliffs and IMG for the hugely successful staging of the first European Tour event in Bulgaria at the Volvo World Match Play Championship. We are sure Graeme McDowell’s victory will go some way to putting Bulgaria on the golfing map, and we hope to return to this outstanding golfing destination in the near future.”
Krassimir Guergov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Golf Association, said: “We would like to thank the players for all their kind words and also to thank Volvo, IMG and The European Tour for giving us the opportunity to show off our golfing credentials. We have had a wonderful experience hosting the 48th Volvo World Match Play Championship at Thracian Cliffs, and would like to congratulate our winner, Graeme McDowell.”