The European Tour returns to the UK this week for the ISPS Handa Wales Open presented by the Celtic Manor Resort


The European Tour returns to the UK this week for the ISPS Handa Wales Open presented by the Celtic Manor Resort.

As always, a strong field will contest the event over the 2010 course at Celtic Manor  – a layout that hosted the Ryder Cup four years ago.

Fittingly, four players who are taking part in this year’s contest – which takes place next week at Gleneagles – are in the field.

Wildcard picks Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher will be joined by automatic qualifiers Thomas Bjorn and home favourite Jamie Donaldson as they bid to sharpen their games ahead of the Ryder Cup.

The likes of Paul Casey – winner of last week’s KLM Open – Ross Fisher and the Molinari brothers are also teeing it up in Wales.

“I can’t remember the last time I was as excited as I am now about playing in a regular Tour event,” said Westwood.

“From everything I know and have heard, it’s going to be the ideal place to play the week before the Ryder Cup.

“Paul’s attention to detail will ensure we are all perfectly prepared wherever we are coming from, but I’m thrilled that Wales will be my starting point.”

The ISPS Handa Wales Open started life as the Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open in 2000 and has produced a strong list of winners since its inception, including European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, Paul Lawrie, Ian Poulter, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Graeme McDowell.

Last year, Gregory Bourdy birdied the final three holes to hold off the challenge of American Peter Uihlein and claim his fourth European Tour title.

The 2010 Course at Celtic Manor is a testing 7,352-yard par-71 layout, with a number of long par 4s and two par 5s in excess of 600 yards.

Venue: The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales
Date: September 18-21
Course stats: par 71, 7,352 yards
Purse: £2,225,000 Winning share: €300,000

TV Coverage:

September 18 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am
September 19 – Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am
September 20 – Sky Sports 4 from 1.30pm
September 21 – Sky Sports 4 from 12.30pm

Player Watch:

Lee Westwood: He’ll be thrilled to have secured a Ryder Cup wildcard pick and that should translate to a good showing at a course he knows well.

Andy Sullivan: Won a trip to space with a hole-in-one last week at the KLM Open en route to a 3rd place finish and came 11th two weeks previously in Italy.

Romain Wattel: Held the 54 hole lead in Holland and finished inside the top 10 at the Omega European Masters.

Key hole: 15th. This is a brilliant risk and reward par-4 that measures 377 yards on the card but is driveable if the players opt to take the line straight from tee to green. The strategic way to play the hole is to lay up to the corner of the dog-leg and pitch on but, by carrying the ball all the way to the putting surface in one, eagle chances can be the result.