The European Tour is back in the UK this week for the 11th running of the Celtic Manor Wales Open. It’s a chance for Europe’s best to display their skills on the course that will host this October’s Ryder Cup.
Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie plays in the tournament but will be watching proceedings closely to see which prospective team members fare best over the Newport resort’s Twenty Ten Course.
Heading the field will be the on-form Englishman Luke Donald. After narrowly missing out on a win at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth he travelled to Madrid and secured his first European Tour title for nearly six years. Donald has cited the Ryder Cup as a key objective for the year and his three-week stint on the European Tour has been planned as a way to try and secure a place on Monty’s team.
“It’s really important for me to make the Team, and that was one of the reasons in my decision to play at Celtic Manor,” said Donald. “It was also nice to come and play a run of events in Europe to try to get a bit of a rhythm going and, of course, to get the win in Madrid after coming so close at Wentworth was just fantastic.”
Other possible Ryder Cuppers in the field include Ross Fisher, Martin Kaymer, Ross McGowan, Simon Dyson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Alvaro Quiros, Graeme McDowell, Soren Hansen, Oliver Wilson, Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, Chris Wood and Welshman Rhys Davies. The 25-year-old from Bridgend finished second in Madrid last week and is currently 19th on the European points list.
“It’s always great to play in Wales in front of home supporters and my friends and family, so hopefully I can capitalise on the way I played in Madrid and put on another decent performance,” he said.
Last year at Celtic Manor, little known Dane Jeppe Huldahl was the surprise victor. He took the advantage towards the end of the, weather-affected, third round and eventually finished a shot ahead of Niclas Fasth.
Venue: The Celtic Manor Resort
Date: Jun 3-6
Course stats: par 71, 7,378 yards
Purse: €2,000,000 Winner: €350,940
Defending Champion: Jeppe Huldahl (-9)
Thursday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 10.30am
Friday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 10.30am
Saturday 5 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 1pm
Sunday 6 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12pm
Luke Donald – The Englishman is on a fantastic run and has made the very most of this spell on the European Tour. He’ll be looking to cap it off with another solid performance here. If he does that, it’ll be very difficult for Monty to look past him for October, even if he doesn’t qualify automatically.
Francesco Molinari – The Italian performed well in Madrid and is hitting the ball unerringly straight. If he can hole a few more putts, he’ll be right up there this week.
Rhys Davies – The Welshman has no issues with holing putts, he’s currently one of the best in the world with the flat stick. He too will be looking to grab Monty’s attention in front of his home fans.
Key hole: 16th. A brutish par 4 of almost 500 yards, this hole demands a long straight drive between the fairway bunkers and a well-struck approach to a tricky green. A par here down the stretch on Sunday evening will feel like a birdie.
Skills required: Iron play. The greens have been firmed up for this year’s tournament so only crisply struck approaches will check up. That means it will also be important to fire in from the fairways, particularly as the rough has been allowed to grow up this year.