The European Tour remains in the UK this week and travels to the Celtic Manor Resort for the ISPS Handa Wales Open. Alexander Noren of Sweden is the defending champion.
The Wales Open was first contested at Celtic Manor in 2000 and since then there have been some notable winners, including Paul McGinley, Paul Lawrie, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Robert Karlsson. Last year Sweden’s Alex Noren prevailed by two strokes over Gregory Bourdy of Fance and Denmark’s Anders Hansen.
There’s a new sponsor for this year’s Wales Open. The International Sports Promotion Society has taken over from Saab as part of a three-year agreement. ISPS, chaired by Japanese philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa, is a key supporter of the International Blind Golf Association and the group works hard to raise the profile of blind and disabled golf around the world.
A strong field has assembled for this event as players strive to collect Ryder Cup points and climb the table in the Race to Dubai. Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal will be teeing it up this week so it’s a good opportunity for a player outside the automatic qualifying positions to grab his attention.
Venue: The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales
Date: May 31 – Jun 3
Course stats: par 71, 7,378 yards
Defending Champion: Alex Noren (-9)
Thursday 31 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Friday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 3.30pm
Saturday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 1pm
Sunday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 12pm
Paul Lawrie – The Scot is in superb form, a semi finalist in the World Match Play then runner-up in the BMW PGA Championship. He’s now second on the European Ryder Cup points list and could all but secure his place at Medinah with a victory here. He’s also a former winner of this event.
Francesco Molinari – Few are better than the Italian from tee to green and he’s playing well at the moment with a victory in Spain and a top-10 last week. Currently 14th on the European Ryder Cup points list, he could do with a boost here.
Jamie Donaldson – The talented Welshman is yet to live up to his full potential on the European Tour and grab a victory. This, his home Open, could be the place to change that.
Key hole: 15th. This is a brilliant risk and reward par-4 that measures 377 yards on the card but is driveable if the players opt to take the line straight from tee to green. The strategic way to play the hole is to lay up to the corner of the dog-leg and pitch on but, by carrying the ball all the way to the putting surface in one, eagle chances can be the result.
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