The formerly named Wales Open resumes its stop-start history on the European Tour this week, with new title sponsor Cazoo taking naming rights. Supported by Welsh footballer Gareth Bale, the event will once again be held at Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Frenchman Romain Langasque claimed a two-shot win in 2020 over Sami Valimaki. The then 25-year-old fired a final-round 65 to reach eight-under for the week and take home his first European Tour title.
COURSE: One of three courses at Celtic Manor Resort, the Twenty Ten course is the first layout purpose built to host the Ryder Cup, which it did in 2010 when Colin Montgomerie led the European side to victory. Celtic Manor has hosted every Wales Open played on the European Tour schedule since 2000.
Utilising nine holes of the former Wentwood Hills course, laid out by American architect Robert Trent Jones Jnr, that were significantly reworked and nine new holes, the par-71 features water on nine holes and presents plenty of risk-reward challenges.
Not a classic course by any means, the Twenty Ten measures 6,762 metres for this week and blends elements of links golf with the parkland venues of America.
PRIZEMONEY: EUR 1,250,000
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
There is a strong Aussie contingent here this week, including many faces not regularly teeing it up on the European Tour. Among that group is Bryden Macpherson who presents as a very interesting prospect in Wales.
Macpherson was on a tear at the beginning of 2021, the Victorian won twice on his home circuit and recorded five other top-20s with a worst finish of T16. The winner of the NSW Open in his last world ranking eligible event, Macpherson has been keeping his game sharp playing with Geoff Ogilvy and other pros in matches organised by the US Open winner in Victoria recently and looks in good form.
Four-round tournament golf is a different beast than an 18-hole shootout, but Macpherson’s rebuild of his game under the tutelage of Brad Hughes plus his vast professional experience bode well as he attempts to secure some playing rights moving forward.
RIGHT: Romain Langasque holds the Wales Open trophy aloft in 2020 at Celtic Manor. PHOTO: Warren Little/Getty Images.
A two-time winner on the European Tour, Justin Harding finished inside the top-20 at The Open last week and will be keen to keep his good form rolling as he attempts to re-enter the top-100 of the world rankings.
Once the World No.42, the South African has been wielding his long putter to great effect with the exception of a missed cut in Scotland and his consistent and accurate driving and approach play set up well for Celtic Manor.
Distance off the tee might be the biggest barrier to success for the man known as ‘Hack’ this week, however, he has a long history of finding a way to compete on big ball parks.
Another of the Aussies worth keeping close tabs on this week is Wade Ormsby.
The South Australian was in the mix at the Scottish Open two weeks ago, but Ormsby failed to get going on the final day which ultimately cost him one of the three Open spots on offer. Having waited on site at Royal St. George’s as the first alternate last week, Ormsby will have done plenty of work on his game and will be determined to not miss another chance at a European Tour victory and the spoils that come with it.
He should be in a great mood too, after a hole-in-one at the Scottish Open earnt him more than 200 bottles of Scotch.
72-HOLE RECORD: Sweden’s Robert Karlsson set the aggregate scoring record in 2006 with his 260 total (16-under), defeating England’s Paul Broadhurst by three shots. Scott Strange holds the tournament scoring record in relation to par, the West Australian reaching 22-under in 2008 when claiming the first of two European Tour wins. Strange finished four shots in front of Karlsson.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Scott Strange (2008).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Maverick Antcliff, Scott Hend, Brad Kennedy, Deyen Lawson, Bryden Macpherson, Wade Ormsby and Elvis Smylie.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 506 LIVE 12:30am – 5:30am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 HIGHLIGHTS 9am – 11am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 HIGHLIGHTS 9am – 11am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9pm – 2am)
*AEST, check local guides