Five reasons why Wales is a great place for a Ryder Cup

By Erik PetersonSeptember 28, 2010, 2:45 am
twenty ten hole 15
The drivable par-4 15th hole at the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor Resort

NEWPORT, Wales – When it was announced that Celtic Manor Resort would be the stage for the 2010 Ryder Cup, some golf critics might have wondered why the selection committee said 'yes' to an untested golf resort in Wales and 'no thanks' to British Open staples Turnberry and Carnoustie. Besides, the Ryder Cup isn't used to moving around a lot. Since the first matches in 1927 only four different European countries – England, Ireland, Scotland and Spain – have played host to the Ryder Cup, so it would have made sense to send it to familiar territory yet again. After all, golf is a game where history is respected and traditions are honored.

But when we visited Celtic Manor this summer we learned that this enchanting country and superb golf resort are a refreshing deviation from Ryder Cup normalcy. From the golf to the food, we discovered five things that make Celtic Manor a very worthy host of one of the world's most important golf events.

1. Uniqueness of the Twenty Ten
Though the Ryder Cup was awarded to Celtic Manor in 2001, the Twenty Ten course didn’t open until 2007, so instead of tweaking the course to suit the Ryder Cup, the Twenty Ten was literally built to host it. And while golf fans might expect a Ryder Cup in Europe to be played on a pure links layout, the Twenty Ten is unique to any previous Ryder Cup venue because of its three distinct personalities:

'Links' (Nos. 1-4) – The first four holes are devoid of trees, but feature tight driving corridors, penalizing bunkers and sloping greens with run-off areas. No. 2 is a 600-plus-yard par 5 that could swing momentum early in the match.

'American' (Nos. 5-14) – Celtic Manor director of golf Jim McKenzie refers to this stretch as the “Floridian” section of the golf course because holes wander through the relatively flat Usk Valley with penalizing water hazards coming into play on several holes. This section is bookended by difficult par 4s which feature water off the tee and into the green. McKenzie bills No. 5 as the Twenty Ten’s most difficult hole and No. 14 as one of the best risk/reward opportunities.

'Alpine' (Nos. 15-18) – The final stretch of holes at the Twenty Ten bumps up against a hillside, creating long, flowing contours akin to Switzerland and Austria. No. 15 is a drivable par 4 that could end up being the most talked about hole at the Ryder Cup. A conservative iron off the tee makes for a straightforward par, but players needing to make a move will be enticed by an aggressive line over the trees to a blind landing area (More on this hole below). No. 18 is a long par 5 with a steep, closely-mown bank protecting the front of the green.

2. Variety of golf
Beyond the Twenty Ten there are two other courses at Celtic Manor and plenty more outside the resort – including famed Royal Porthcawl, site of the 1995 Walker Cup. The total package of courses has a wide variety.

Sitting in front of the Celtic Manor hotel is Roman Road, Robert Trent Jones’ only golf course in Wales. This hilly parkland layout hosted the European Tour Wales Open for three years while the Twenty Ten was under construction. It’s considered the No. 2 course at the resort.

The Montgomerie course is more of an old-fashioned layout with pot bunkers. It plays shorter and easier than Roman Road, making it a nice complement to the resort’s other two courses.

If you know a little about Welsh golf you’ve probably heard of Royal Porthcawl, a classic seaside links course built in 1895. It has long been considered one of the finest golf courses in Wales and has plenty of championship pedigree. In 1995 it hosted the Walker Cup – the amateur version of the Ryder Cup – in what was Tiger Woods’ only appearance in the event. It also has hosted six British Amateurs, most recently in 2002.

At 6,685 yards from the tips, Royal Porthcawl is short by today’s pro standards, but with deep pot bunkers and severe greens, it’s a stern test of classic links golf. Consider it a must-play during your golf trip to Wales. Although it’s private, Royal Porthcawl is accommodating to tourists who call in advance.

3. Built for excitement
From the drivable par-4 15th hole to the par-5 finisher that features a massive, closely-mown bank in front of the green, the Twenty Ten has plenty of potential for high drama down the stretch – and it’s all surrounded by hillsides and mounding conducive to spectator viewing.

McKenzie calls Nos. 14-18 the “Twenty Ten’s version of Amen Corner” because of its strategic value.

“Once you get to the 14th tee that’s the first place you have to make a decision based on whether you’re up or down, or what your partner just did,” McKenzie said.

For matches that go the distance, No. 18 won’t disappoint. A powerful tee shot leaves players with a decision to lay up or go for the water-protected green. The main issue here is that balls that even think about coming up short will likely catch the slope and roll backward into the water. It’s a treacherous shot whether you have a 3-wood in your hand, or a wedge.

Beyond the design of the inward holes, the views are also spectacular. Spectators can stand in one place and look across the valley at golf action on several holes.

“In addition to the golf, the aerial views of the surrounding countryside are great promotion of Celtic Manor and Wales,” said Celtic Manor CEO Dylan Matthews. “It’s a beautiful area that we live in.”

4. Welsh culture
No matter where you travel, one of the most intriguing aspects of an overseas golf trip is the opportunity to experience a culture different than your own. Wales is no exception.

Though it’s less than a two-hour drive west from London Heathrow – the world’s busiest airport – Celtic Manor is at the center of a unique Welsh culture that features its own array of beers – Brains is the national brand – delicious food and its own quirky language. Don’t worry though, English is spoken in most areas.

The food, particularly at the Celtic Manor Hotel, is abundant and altogether tastier than most British food. There are several great restaurants within the resort, all of which serve an eclectic variety of Welsh fare including fresh local fish and pretty much any meat you can imagine. Cheese is a part of every meal, whether it’s breakfast or the meal that comes after dessert (whatever that’s called). Some menu items are a bit strange if you’re unaccustomed to non-traditional fare (snails, anyone?) but then again, “When in Wales…”

As is the case all over the United Kingdom, a few golf terms are different here: You don’t rent golf clubs, you “hire” them. Motorized carts are “buggies” and instead of ordering a beer it’s a “pint” (no matter the size).

5. Plenty to do after your round
Though most resort amenities will be closed to the general public during the Ryder Cup, the surrounding area is littered with pubs serving Brains Black (the country’s version of Guinness) and Penderyn (a Welsh whisky). Downtown Newport is your best bet, but any hotel concierge would have recommendations for a hole-in-the-wall, if that’s your scene.

If you have a penchant for sporting clays, Treetops Sporting Ground is a 10-minute shuttle ride from the resort. Even if you don’t have any experience shooting a gun, a professionally guided tour will give you the chance to shoot a variety of targets.

Though Scotland and Ireland still reign in the minds of most traveling golfers, the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor is proof that Wales is a seriously legitimate golf destination.
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Garcia (73), Fleetwood (74) off to slow starts at BMW

By Associated PressJune 21, 2018, 8:30 pm

PULHEIM, Germany – Sebastien Gros carded a 4-under 68 in windy conditions to lead by one shot after the opening round of the BMW International Open on Thursday.

The Frenchman had four birdies to take the lead before the turn, and a six-footer on the 15th hole moved him two ahead. But a bogey on the next hole left the 28-year-old Gros just one ahead of Jorge Campillo, Scott Jamieson, Aaron Rai and Henric Sturehed.

Sturehed eagled the par-5 No. 13 to take the lead in the morning at the Gut Laerchenhof club.

Christofer Blomstrand, Nico Geyger, Mark Tullo, Victor Perez, David Howell and Nicolai von Dellingshausen are a further stroke back on 2-under 70.

Defending champion Andres Romero was among a large group at 1 under, including 2013 winner Ernie Els and three-time European Tour winner Andy Sullivan.

Romero is bidding to be the first player to retain the title.

Local favorite and 2008 champion Martin Kaymer shot 72, ahead of Sergio Garcia (73) and Tommy Fleetwood (74).

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Ryu thriving again after simple advice from Inbee Park

By Randall MellJune 21, 2018, 7:07 pm

So Yeon Ryu shared Rolex Player of the Year honors last year.

She reigned as world No. 1 for almost five months.

So when she couldn’t keep her momentum going at year’s start, she got frustrated. She wasn’t happy with two top 10s in her first 11 starts.

“I lost a lot of confidence at the beginning of the year,” Ryu said Thursday as she prepared to lead a strong field as the defending champion in Friday’s start of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. “My expectation level was way too high.”

So she sought the counsel of her pal, world No. 1 Inbee Park, who gave her some plain-spoken advice.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

“Get over it,” Park told her. “You know what to do. You’ve done it, so it’s not really a big deal. Don’t worry about it. You were No. 1. You’ve achieved a lot of things as a professional golfer. Just don’t be too hard on yourself.”

Ryu got over it winning the Meijer LPGA Classic last week, the sixth LPGA title of her career, her third in 15 months. She’s feeling good again leading a stellar field this week at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., a strong tune up before next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the year’s third major championship.

World No. 1 Park, No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson are among the top nine players in the world scheduled to compete this week. Twenty-four of the top 30 are in the field.

“When you come to defend your title, you obviously have a lot of pressure, but after I won last week, now I sort of think, maybe I have a chance to defend my title,” Ryu said. “So I've got total confidence, by last week.”

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Watch: Spieth, JT hole bunker shots in back-to-back groups

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 6:57 pm

Jordan Spieth has a thing for holing bunker shots at the Travelers Championship, where he made one in a playoff to win last year.

He did it again in Round 1 at TPC River Highlands, knocking in this shot for eagle at the par-5 sixth to reach 4 under par for the tournament

In the next group, Justin Thomas did the same thing to reach 1 under. Keep an eye out for the best part of this highlight, when Thomas' caddie Jimmy Johnson tries to hand him his putter.

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River Highlands a 'breather' for Zach Johnson (63)

By Will GrayJune 21, 2018, 6:43 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – After enduring the pressure-cooker of the U.S. Open, Zach Johnson was more than happy to drift north to the friendly confines of TPC River Highlands.

Birdies were rare last week at Shinnecock Hills, but they’ll be plentiful all week long at the Travelers Championship. Browned-out and crispy conditions transitioned to lush and verdant, and players can attack flags without fear of turning a possible par into a struggle to avoid triple.

Johnson did just that in the opening round, carding eight birdies against a single bogey to take the early lead with a 7-under 63.

“It’s a different kind of breathing. It’s a different kind of exhaling, if you will, but they’re both good,” Johnson said. “You can put some red on the board here. We know that. We’ve seen it. You can go the other way in a hurry if you press it; it can keep going in the other way. So you kind of have to let it happen. This is one of those courses where you have to let it happen.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Like many in this week’s field, Johnson took it easy after a grueling major championship, staying away from the course Monday and easing into his prep over the next two days. Those decisions paid off quickly as he rattled off six straight birdies on Nos. 11-16 to take sole possession of the lead.

While Johnson tied for 12th last week at Shinnecock Hills, that was just his second top-15 finish since the Sony Open in January. But the veteran is no stranger to fast starts at TPC River Highlands, having now opened with 65 or better four times in his last eight appearances dating back to 2011.

It’s a course where he continues to have success, even if his past consistency hasn’t lived up to expectations.

“I feel like every time I get here it feels like I should shoot nothing, and it bites me,” Johnson said. “The last couple years I’m like, ‘All right, you can’t have any expectations in that regard. You’ve just got to go out and execute, you know, put the ball in the fairway and you will have opportunities.’”