LONDON -- The European Tour will stage a tournament in Bulgaria for the first time after deciding to rotate the Volvo World Match Play Championship between locations across the continent.
After three years at the Finca Cortesin resort in southern Spain, the tournament will be played at the Gary Player-designed Thracian Cliffs Course beside the Black Sea from May 16-19 next year as part of plans to bring ''the championship to geographical areas of interest'' for its sponsor, Volvo.
This is the second year of the BMW Masters in Shanghai, and the first in which it is an official event on the European Tour.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said in a statement Monday that it was a ''real coup'' for the eastern European country to host ''such a prestigious international tournament with a rich heritage and sporting traditions.''
After being held at Wentworth, outide of London, from 1964 to 2007, the tournament switched to Finca Cortesin three years ago and, with an expanded field of 24 players, has been won by Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts the past two years.
"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," said Per Ericsson, president of Volvo Event Management. "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."
Colsaerts, whose victory in May helped to secure him a Ryder Cup debut, said: "This just demonstrates the global appeal of golf.
"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," he added. "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."