The European Tour remains in the UK this week as the players head for Newport and the Celtic Manor Wales Open, Australia’s Scott Strange defends a title that he won in some style in 2008.
Contested over the Twenty Ten Ryder Cup Course, both team captains – Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin – are playing in the tournament. Their objectives will be threefold: to perform well in the event, to reconnoitre the course layout to see where their side might have an advantage and to see how prospective team members (or opposition team members) perform around the course.
Last season, Australia’s Scott Strange led from wire to wire to become the third player to secure their maiden European Tour title at the Celtic Manor Wales Open. Strange is joined on the start sheet this year by other former winners at Celtic Manor – Paul Lawrie, Simon Khan and Paul McGinley.
There’ll also be a strong representation from the home nation. Stephen Dodd will lead the challenge on the back of two top-five finishes in his last two starts. “It’ll be nice to get some home support.” He said. “Sometimes it’s worth a shot or two.” Other Welshmen in the field include – Bradley Dredge, Jamie Donaldson, Sion Bebb and Phillip Price.
Venue: The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales
Course stats: par 71, 7,378 yards
Purse: €2,087,000, Winner: €343,086
Defending Champion: Scott Strange (-22)
Thursday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10am
Friday 5 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10am
Saturday 6 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 1pm
Sunday 7 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 12pm
Søren Kjeldsen – The Dane is enjoying an excellent season and was third in his last start on Tour. He’s a consistent performer who makes few mistakes. Expect to see him in contention come Sunday evening.
Ross Fisher – The Englishman will be hoping to bounce back strongly from a poor performance at the European Open last week. He’ll also be out to impress Monty around the Twenty Ten course.
Paul Lawrie – A former winner of this tournament, Lawrie has been showing glimpses of his best form over the past few weeks. If he can string four solid rounds together he could be a serious challenger.
Key hole: 16th. A testing par-4 of 477 yards, last year it ranked as the hardest hole on the course playing to an average of 4.21. It’s long and narrow with bunkers at driving distance and around the green.
Skills required: Putting. This is a course where the top players will give themselves a good number of birdie chances. Converting them will be key to success here. Last year’s winner Scott Strange averaged just 27.5 putts per round.