Wales launch bid for 2009 Ryder Cup

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Wales have launched a bid to stage the 2009 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor club.

Wales have launched a bid to stage the 2009 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor club.

The new club, located at Newport just over the Severn Bridge, is staging the first Wales Open, a full European Tour event, this week on the demanding and hilly, 7,324-yard Wentworth Hills layout.

It is one of three layouts at the Celtic Manor resort and was opened last year, although the club has been operating since 1995.

The bid has the full backing of the Welsh National Assembley, the Welsh Tourist Board and the Welsh Development Agency. It also has financial support from the resort's owner, Canadian multi-millionaire Terry Matthews.

Spokesmen for the various organisations spoke of the fine facilities, with ample space for all the support services, hotel rooms that will number 1,100 by 2009 and a course that can readily accommodate 30,000 spectators a day.

The Concorde can land at the nearby Cardiff Airport, a significant consideration for the American team.

"Celtic Manor doesn't lack for anything," former Masters champion Ian Woosnam of Wales said. "I've been to plenty of other resorts and this has a lot more going for it."

The Welsh bid is expected to face opposition from a Scottish bid, although which course would stage the event in Scotland has not been determined.

Loch Lomond, where a men's European Tour event is held the week before the British Open, has declared itself a candidate and views its staging of the women's Solheim Cup later this year as a trial run for the Ryder Cup.

A decision on where the Cup will be held in 2009 is expected late next year but all official bids have to be submitted this year

When the biennial Ryder Cup returns to Europe next year, the venue will be in England at The Belfry, where the event was staged in 1985, 1989 and 1993.

Ireland will stage the 2005 event at the K Club, at Straffan outside Dublin.

Meanwhile, the Wales Open has been deprived of the field it hoped to attract because of next week's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Most of Europe's top stars have opted not to play there. Organisers hope for a better date next year.

Woosnam, who finished third and seventh in his last two events, is the favourite. The field also includes fellow Welshman Philip Price, Ryder Cup team member Andrew Coltart, the last two European captains - Seve Ballesteros and Mark James - and the present captain, Sam Torrance.

It's the first European Tour event staged in Wales since the Epson Grand Prix was held for the last time at St Pierre, Chepstow, in 1991.