Thracian Cliffs Golf and Beach Resort is the venue for this week’s Volvo World Match Play Championship as the European Tour ventures to Bulgaria for the first time. The Black Sea layout will be new to all of the 24 players teeing up, who are drawn in eight groups of three, with the round robin matches taking place on Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s knockout round and the semi-finals and final on Sunday.
Match-play specialist and former winner Ian Poulter heads the betting at 7/1, with Ryder Cup colleague Graeme McDowell (8/1) second best in the market. Defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts (10/1) and Henrik Stenson (8/1), winner of the WGC Matchplay event in 2007, are also prominent on the first page of odds, while PGA Tout regulars Bo Van Pelt and Carl Pettersson bolster a better than usual field.
Of the market principles Stenson has the best recent form. The Swede, who got back to winning ways after a five-year title drought, when claiming the South African Open Championship last November, was fifth in the Players Championship on Sunday – a place payout finish that came just a month after a runners-up spot in Houston.
He showed similar form before his win at Serengeti Golf Club. And don’t worry about the trip back to Europe after his showing at Sawgrass – his South African victory also came the week following four rounds in Florida.
This is a tournament where outsiders have always struggled to make their mark, whether it’s been held at Wentworth or, as the last three renewals have, Finca Cortesin in Spain. So with that in mind, take Brett Rumford to continue his breathtaking form. The Australian, who has putted brilliantly to win the last two events out in the Far East, will relish the gusty conditions this coastal course could throw up and is worth a place in the staking plan at 25/1.
So it’s Stenson and Rumford for me.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.