Padraig Harrington, who won the Open at Carnoustie last summer, will make his debut in the Wales Open at Celtic Manor next month. As a major winner, Harrington can decide when and where to play – and for how much – but his schedule will not please the European Tour.
It is understood he will receive about £450,000 for crossing the Severn Bridge (toll £5.30) and his presence will increase the profile of a tournament that for the first time will be held at the extraordinary new development that will host the Ryder Cup in 2010.
The Twenty Ten course measures nearly 7,500 yards and is a par 71 – difficult enough in strokeplay, potentially dramatic in matchplay.
"This gives me an opportunity to get an early look at the layout and I've heard a lot of good things about it," Harrington said. "It should provide a great challenge which, hopefully, will suit my game and prepare me for the tough conditions we can expect at the US Open a couple of weeks later."
The Wales Open, which has an increased prize fund of £1.8m, takes place from 29 May to 1 June, the week after the tour's flagship event, the PGA Championship at Wentworth, at which Harrington will not be present. Celtic Manor's coup is England's loss.