Struggling Woosnam hints at retirement

It is little wonder that the words "Ryder Cup" bring a huge smile to those in charge here. Not only has the winning of the right to stage the 2010 match put the vast complex that hugs the M4 in Newport on the golfing map, but now it has added some much-needed prestige to the Wales Open as well.

It is little wonder that the words "Ryder Cup" bring a huge smile to those in charge here. Not only has the winning of the right to stage the 2010 match put the vast complex that hugs the M4 in Newport on the golfing map, but now it has added some much-needed prestige to the Wales Open as well.

For never in its five-year history has the field boasted the calibre of this week's line-up - and this year's Ryder Cup is to thank for that. Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Joakim Haeggman and Brian Davis form the week's main chasing pack for September's duel in Detroit, while there are those such as Colin Montgomerie and Philip Price, Ryder Cup heroes of old, searching for the chink of light here that could at least point them towards the road to Oakland Hills.

The £250,000 first prize would go a long way to satisfying their ambitions, as would the £210,000 one punter stands to win after putting £15,000 on Poulter at 14-1 to retain his title. "A smart bet really," said a typically confident Poulter, who confessed he, too, would be investing some of his hard-earned. "I'm playing well enough, I just need to hole a few putts."

One Welshman who was not feeling particularly welcome in the hillsides is Ian Woosnam, the principality's only major winner to date but whose game recently has been jammed in minor. The 1991 Masters champion has missed six cuts out of the 10 tournaments he played so far this season, a miserable run of form that was compounded by a horrendous, card-ripping 82 at Wentworth last week.

"I'm not enjoying it. No. Not at all," Woosnam said before hinting that he, like the recently-retired Seve Ballesteros, might consider walking away from the game, albeit temporarily.

"When you are struggling out there after 27 years... well, what's the point of being here?" he said. "If I can't make changes I am going to have to say forget it for a while. Take six months off until I get it correct. One week I play half decent, then I play shocking the next week.

"I know what to do but it just looks odd to change my address position and what it needs is hours and hours of practice."

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