Welsh stake their claim to stage Ryder Cup recognition

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The Independent Online

The great and the good of Wales lined up here yesterday to officially launch a high-powered bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2009, the next available date for the European venue in the biennial match with the United States.

The great and the good of Wales lined up here yesterday to officially launch a high-powered bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2009, the next available date for the European venue in the biennial match with the United States.

The Celtic Manor resort , the venue for the inaugural Wales Open which starts today, has the support of the National Assembly for Wales, the Tourist Board and the Welsh Development Agency. "We're confident we could do the best job the Ryder Cup has ever seen," Rhodri Morgan, the First Secretary for Wales, said.

Tom Middlehurst, the Welsh Minister for Sport, added: "World-class sporting events like the Rugby World Cup and the Ryder Cup place Wales in the international spotlight. We have a superb venue here to host such a prestigious event."

Celtic Manor, a five-star resort, is the creation of the billionaire Terry Matthews, who has spent £100m on the project. It has three courses, all designed by the American father and son team of Robert Trent Jones Snr and Jnr. Their latest creation, Wentwood Hills, which opened last year, occupies 350 acres of wooded valley with the Usk River a feature and from the back tees measures nearly 7,400 yards. It has been designed with the Ryder Cup in mind.

However, it is not to everybody's liking. Yesterday Greg Turner withdrew from the Wales Open after playing only 10 holes in a practice run. "It's not my cup of tea," the New Zealander said. "My chances of playing it with any degree of success would have been between slim and zero. It felt like I was playing on a skyscraper, hitting shots from the ground floor to the 15th floor and vice versa. There are a lot of blind shots to very severe greens. It would drive me nuts. This is just my opinion and it doesn't mean it's a bad course. I've been playing five weeks in a row and my patience threshold is low."

For his late withdrawal, Turner, 36th in the European Tour career money list with almost £2m, was fined £250. "At least it means somebody else can play. If I'd withdrawn with an aching back on Thursday morning I wouldn't have been fined and my spot wouldn't be filled. We are not supposed to criticise courses and therefore there is no informed debate about the state of modern course architecture. I'm not a big fan of the Trent Jones's work. If there was global warming and the sea rose 60 feet the course might be a good option."

Ian Woosnam, who has an Academy at Celtic Manor named after him, said: "When you have a piece of land like this it's difficult for the way back not to be hilly. Down in the Usk Valley it's a wonderful setting with nice views. It's like the US Masters. I'm all in favour of the Ryder Cup bid. You've got a resort with 400 bedrooms, a clubhouse which is second to none and superb practice facilities. It doesn't lack for anything. I've been to plenty of other resorts and this one has a lot more going for it."

Phillip Price, a local favourite this week, said in support of the Ryder Cup bid: "I think the course is great and the resort fantastic. I'm sure that if a few changes were needed they'd make them. Terry Matthew will do everything that needs to be done to bring the Cup here."

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