Two years later, Wales pleased with Ryder Cup legacy

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 26, 2012, 3:19 pm

The 2010 Ryder Cup Matches will go down as an event that began with rainfall of biblical proportions and ended with a dramatic finish that came down to the final pairing. 

Certainly memorable for a variety of reasons, two years later, Wales officials are proclaiming the event a great success. The aim of Terry Matthews, the wealthy Welshman who was the driving force behind securing the event at his Celtic Manor Resort, was to put the largest, international sporting spotlight on Wales ever.

Thus far, the multi-pronged, all-hands-on-deck approach by the country since the announcement in 2001 appears to be paying off. Consider this: in 2002, Visit Wales says the country hosted 30,000 visiting golfers, which helped drive 7 million pounds into the economy. Following the 2010 Ryder Cup, that number soared to 200,000 golfers and 40 million pounds. That includes 76,000 American visitors to Wales in 2011. 

'We've gone from the challenges of making people aware [of Wales],' said Rob Holt, Director of Marketing for Visit Wales. 'To the point where we're challenging to keep people. It's a great new challenge to have.'

U.S.-based tour operator Perry Golf says they've seen a slight bump in Wales interest since the matches. Gordon Dalgleish, co-founder and president of the company, says that while it's rarely the first place golfers want to visit in the British Isles (that still goes to Scotland and Ireland) repeat visitors would be well served to make the visit.

'From a price point it's very attractive,' he said. 'It's in-line with the northwest of Ireland. Wales is a slightly different culture, has some great scenery and the quality of golf is every bit as good.'

Dalgleish said its popular for golf tours to include the Open Championship links on England's nearby Lancashire coast with north Wales. 

'The one challenge is they don't have the same caddie culture (as Scotland and Ireland),' said Dalgleish. 'For some Americans, that's a bit of a negative.'

Tourism aside, Wales used the Ryder Cup to springboard local interest in golf. 2 million pounds were invested in local, accessible golf opportunities from 2007-2010. This included 38 new, public-access golf facilities and Wales is happy to report they've all done well and helped increase the amount of golfers in the country, which bucks the trend of declining interest in many parts of the world and a struggling economy in Europe.

'One would have expected a couple of these facilities would be struggling,' said Holt. 'But they are all still up and running and getting more people into the game of golf.'

And while the Ryder Cup posed some logistical challenges due to the rain and Monday finish, officials were pleased with how the logistics were handled and are thirsty for more big events. Wales helped host the 2012 Olympic games in London by staging soccer matches in Cardiff. In 2014, the country will host its first major golf tournament, the 2014 Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl, which the R & A has agreed to bring to Porthcawl twice more before 2025.

Four undeniably unique golf courses in Wales

Pennard cows

Having visited Wales several times myself, the following courses are as unique as golf in the British Isles can be:

Pennard Golf Club: An extremely raw, ever-scenic links set high on a cliff top in southwest Wales. Horses, sheep and cattle roam the course freely and the fairways have nary a flat spot.

Royal Porthcawl Golf Club: For the touring golfer, it's as enjoyable of a course as any on the British Open rota; a historic and tremendous blend of true links playability and seaside scenery on every hole.

Nefyn & District Golf Club: An imperfect, and at times comically bizarre cliffside course design on one of the game's most jaw-dropping, peninsula settings high above the ocean.

Southerndown Golf Club: The sheep roam freely and abundantly on this lofty, rolling spot of countryside overlooking the southern coast.

Aberdovey, Bull Bay and Royal St. David's are also a lot of fun. 

Wales also has some very unique accommodations. One of the most interesting places I've ever stayed is Portmeirion Village, a small, storybook seaside village in north wales near Portmadog and close to Nefyn & District.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.