For the fifth consecutive event the DP World Tour tees up in its spiritual home of the UK with the Cazoo Open supported by Gareth Bale (or the Wales Open, if you prefer).
Played over the purpose built Ryder Cup course at Celtic Manor resort, the tournament is – surprisingly – just 22 years old and has only been played 16 of those 22 years.
Born out of a deal with the Celtic Manor Resort which also assured the venue hosting duties at the 2010 Ryder Cup, the facility has been the tournament’s only host though over a couple of different courses.
The original Wentwood Hills layout was used from 2000 to 2004 then when that course was being rebuilt for the 2010 Ryder Cup the resort’s shorter Roman Road course was used for three years.
The renamed 2010 course has been used since and will host again this week.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Nacho Elvira started the final round with a six shot lead but ended up needing extra holes to take the title.
A battling final round of even par 71 – including a final hole bogey – almost cost the Spaniard the trophy after South Africa’s Justin Harding blitzed the course in 65.
RIGHT: Spain's Nacho Elvira holds the trophy aloft last year in Wales. PHOTO: Warren Little/Getty Images.
Elvira eventually secured the win with a par at the first hole of sudden death when Harding three putted for bogey.
COURSE: Celtic Manor’s 2010 course was the first (and as yet only) course purpose built to host the Ryder Cup and it shows.
Multiple natural spectating amphitheatres have been built into the course and the hand of man is obvious at almost every turn.
Despite being a resort course the 2010 is a difficult test and often sees a score of single digits under par winning each year.
Having said that, scoring is very much weather dependent and the field have gone low several times with Scott Strange’s 22-under-par setting the mark in 2008.
There is little of genuine architectural interest to be found at Celtic Manor with the reason for the course’s being – The Ryder Cup – dictating the nature of the holes rather than any pre-existing features of the land.
In fact, major earthworks had to be carried out to allow several of the new holes to be built in a valley adjoining the property meaning there was little in the way of natural landforms to start with.
The course is a test of execution first and foremost and will no doubt again produce and interesting tournament.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: As has been the case much of the year the fields are pretty evenly matched in these DP World Tour events.
Last year’s winner, Nacho Elvira, is back to defend though will need to have found something since missing the cut last week, an all too frequent occurrence this year.
Perhaps a better bet might be Finland’s Mikko Korhonen who was in the mix last year finishing just one outside the play-off.
That was his fifth start here with two missed cuts, a WD and a T8 in the others so when he plays the weekend, he gives himself a chance.
Bookend rounds of 66 last year suggest he has found something he likes about the course and with solid form all season he will be keen to get back to Wales.
Also itching to get back on course will be Belgium’s’ Nicolas Colsaerts who won a slew of new fans with his commentary at The Open at St Andrews two weeks ago.
While he hasn’t played a tournament since May, Colsaerts is a mercurial talent and his disappointment at not being on the course was palpable at the Old Course.
With not a single cut made in four starts in 2022 his expectations will likely be low while his motivation will likely be high, a potentially good combination for such a naturally gifted player.
Fellow Belgian Thomas Detry will be among the more fancied in the field (Colsaerts most definitely will not be) and rightly so, the 29-year-old somehow yet to win an individual title on the DP World Tour.
This is Detry’s first appearance at Celtic Manor but the quintessentially modern your course should set up well for a quintessentially modern touring professional.
Last week’s winner Sean Crocker was a revelation for many but among those who follow the game closely his win was less of a surprise.
Noted for his excellent ball striking, this week’s course should play to his strengths though it has to be said winning back-to-back is not easy.
72-HOLE RECORD: 262 (-22, Scott Strange, 2008)
18-HOLE RECORD: 63 (Stephen Gallacher, 2010)
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Scott Strange (2008)
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Scott Hend, Elvis Smylie, Austin Batista, Maverick Antcliff, Zach Murray, Jake McLeod and Dimi Papadatos
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 505 11.30pm – 5am)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 505 11.30pm – 5am)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 505 7.30pm – 12.30am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 505 7.30pm – 12.30am)
*AEST, check local guides