Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 5/15/13

DOHA, QATAR - JANUARY 28: Ian Poulter of England on the 15th fairway during the first round of The Commercialbank Qatar Masters at The Doha Golf Club on January 28, 2010 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
In all his years on the European Tour, Ian Poulter has never seen surroundings like this - and not just because he's in a new country. With Bulgaria hosting a major golf tournament for the first time, Poulter and his colleagues have already been taken aback by the picturesque seaside course that will host the World Match-Play Championship this week. The stunning Gary Player-designed Thracian Cliffs course is laid out on a four-kilometer stretch along the Black Sea shoreline, offering breathtaking views for players and fans alike. ''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, who made his tour debut in 2000. ''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 3 to 10 are perched right on the cliff edge. ... It's an incredible piece of real estate and it's going to look amazing on TV which is good for the European Tour.'' The European Tour decided last year to rotate the World Match Play Championship between locations on the continent after holding the tournament in southern Spain for the last three years. It's never held a tournament in Bulgaria before, but is looking to boost the profile of both golf and its sponsor - Volvo - in the country. Bo Van Pelt is the only American in the 24-man field, and was among a group of 11 PGA Tour-based players flown in by Volvo on a private jet from Jacksonville, Florida, via London after the end of the Players Championship. The players arrived in Kavarna via helicopter and were given their first look at the course from the air in a flyover. ''I know for a guy who grew up in Richmond, Indiana, it's been pretty cool to fly private jet across the Atlantic to London, and then on here to Bulgaria, and then to fly over the course in a chopper, and that's something I've never done ahead of any tournament,'' Van Pelt said. ''Never did I think when I started playing golf that I would be one day playing in Bulgaria. But then that is one of the reasons why I wanted to come as it's a great opportunity to visit a part of the world that I never thought I would get to see, and it's going to be a great life experience.'' Bulgaria has just eight golf courses, with Thracian Cliffs one of three that are located within a 10-minute drive of each other. The course has its dangers, though. Tour officials have warned of the venomous Ursini vipers that are common in the rocky regions of Bulgaria, with a notice in the temporary clubhouse saying medics have anti-venom on hand should anyone get bitten. Van Pelt faces South African Richard Sterne in one of eight first round robin matches on Thursday involving the 16 seeded players. There will then be 16 round-robin matches on Friday involving the entire field ahead of the quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon. The semifinals are held Sunday morning with the final in the afternoon. For a father of three, Van Pelt has undertaken a lot of overseas travel of late including visits last year to Malaysia and then to the west coast of Australia where he captured the Perth International. ''It's a good challenge for me to become an all-round player by competing around the globe and playing shots on different grasses, different courses and different time changes,'' he said. ''It just gives you an appreciation to have brilliant we have it on the PGA Tour and how easy the travel is within the States. ... I've got three kids and when they get older I want them to experience the world and not say, `No, I don't want to go do that.'''
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