European Tour

Poulter's record to be tested

2013-05-14 20:10
Ian Poulter (File)
Kavarna - Ian Poulter's impressive match-play record will be tested in this week's historic Volvo Match-Play Championship at Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria.

Poulter, a former double winning event champion and hero of last year's European Ryder Cup team triumph, was uncharacteristically lost for words when asked if he could name any course similar to this week's host venue.

The spectacular Gary Player designed course is laid out over four kilometres on a cliff top overlooking the Black Sea.

It is the first time a major golf tournament will be staged in Bulgaria, a country boasting only eight golf courses and with Thracian Cliffs among three each within 15 minutes of each other.

Poulter arrived from the States after having missed the cut in his last two events, the Master and last week's Players Championship in Florida.

He first joined 10 other competitors on Monday afternoon in two helicopters for a fly-over the course before stepping onto the championship layout on Tuesday.

"I don't think I have ever seen any course like this and I'm wracking my brain trying to think if I've ever played a course like this, and I just can't think of one," said Poulter.

"It's been called the 'Pebble Beach of Europe' but there is only a few holes at Pebble Beach where you play along the shoreline whereas here at Thracian Cliffs holes three to 10 are perched right on the cliff edge.

"I've never played Old Head in Ireland or Nefyn in Wales that I know are cliff top courses, and to also fly over the course yesterday was cool, and that's something I've never ever done before a golf tournament.

"It's an incredible piece of real estate and it's going to look amazing on TV which is good for the European Tour."

While it is an historic first for Bulgaria, the former Communist nation is one of 27 different countries hosting 43 tournaments on this year's 2013 Race to Dubai European Tour schedule.

The event is being backed by the Bulgarian Government and the Bulgarian Golf Association with their president, Krassimir Guergov declaring: "This is the biggest sporting event in the history of Bulgaria. This week the world will be watching Bulgaria and we will deliver."

And Poulter has singled out the European Tour, sponsor Volvo and Bulgarian authorities in bringing the event to Europe's 14th largest country.

"It's good to be here at a new Tour stop as European Tour tournaments have declined in the last few years as we used to have seven events in Spain two years ago, and now only one this year," said Poulter.

"So any new tournament that can hopefully showcase our Tour maybe will generate new sponsors and lead to new events on the schedule.

"It's great and a clever initiative on the part of Volvo and as I said, hopefully other countries around Europe will see that golf is still strong in Europe and seek to stage golf tournaments."

Joining Poulter this week is recent back-to-back European Tour winner, Brett Rumford of Australia.

Rumford secured his place in the field in capturing the recent Volvo China Open, and a third career Tour success inspired by the success of fellow Australian Adam Scott in capturing last month's Masters.

"I got a couple of text messages from Scotty (Adam Scott) which was fantastic, and he said to me how really proud he was for me," said Rumford.

"His effort in winning the Masters was the inspiration for me and every other Australian competing around the world."

And while Rumford is assured of making his debut later this year in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill in upper New York State, he's well placed also in qualifying for only a third British Open.

Rumford currently heads the Race to Dubai money list with earnings this year of 811,807 euros and can be assured of a Muirfield tee time if he's among the leading five money-earners at the June 9 end to the French Open.


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