Ryder Cup stars head to Celtic Manor for Wales Open.
Now that the PGA Tour season is over – and Billy Horschel about $12 million richer – attention turns to an event closer to home.
The Wales Open has been played at the Celtic Manor resort since 2000 and some of Europe’s Ryder Cup stars will be heading to south Wales for this weekend’s European Tour event. Keep reading for our preview of the 2014 ISPS Handa Wales Open.
Event to be played on 2010 Ryder Cup course
Since 2008, the event has been played on the Ryder Cup Twenty-Ten course. It plays as a 36-35 par 71 and Scott Strange’s 22 under par aggregate in 2008 is by some distance the best winning score.
With four par 5s there are plenty of birdie chances. And, several of the field including Ross Fisher, Edoardo Molinari and Francesco Molinari played on the course as part of Europe’s triumphant 2010 Ryder Cup team.
The favourites for the Wales Open
No Welshman has ever won the Wales Open but this year there will be plenty of support for one of the European Tour’s leading players.
In third position in the Race to Dubai, Jamie Donaldson is the highest placed of the four Ryder Cup players heading to Celtic Manor this weekend and the 38 year old will hope to go one better than compatriots Rhys Davies and Bradley Dredge by winning his home event.
The Pontypridd-born player has three top ten finishes in ten appearances in his national Open, and will be bidding to become the event’s first home winner ahead of his debut at the Ryder Cup next weekend.
Donaldson is the 14/1 joint favourite in the outright betting for the Wales Open this year.
After top five finishes in his last two European Tour events, the man in form is Donaldson’s fellow 14/1 joint favourite Joost Luiten. The 28 year old followed up a T4 finish at the open D’Italia with a T5 result at last weekend’s KLM Open and he has shot a combined 26 under par in his last eight rounds of golf.
Luiten finished second to Thongchai Jaidee at this event in 2012 and so has a decent record at the course. He looks great each-way value.
Paul Casey made the cut at the KLM Open by just two shots last weekend in his first tournament since becoming a father. After that he shot a course record 62 and a closing round of 66 to capture his thirteenth European Tour title by one shot.
The 38 year old has a top two finish at this event – albeit a decade ago – but is 16/1 to win.
Some outsiders to consider in the betting
Having been the Wales Open runner-up in 2011, Frenchman Grégory Bourdy went one better by winning his fourth European Tour title at Celtic Manor in 2013. Bourdy birdied the closing three holes, including making a 30ft putt on the last, to finish two strokes clear of American Peter Uihlein.
“It was an amazing finish last year, with three amazing putts,” he said. “I’ve some amazing memories of that course, so it will be great to go back. I’ve been waiting for it for a few weeks now because I’ve not played that great, so hopefully it will help inspire me.”
The 32 year old has missed three of his last five cuts but has a good record at Celtic Manor and could go well at 35/1.
It would be fair to say that Andy Sullivan has blown hot and cold in 2014. The 28 year old recorded his best finish since March at the KLM Open last weekend, helped by a final round hole-in-one that also won him a trip into space.
Sullivan has won over half a million euros on the Tour this season and has eight top 15 finishes to his name. He had a torrid time on his debut in this event last year – an eight over par 79 in his opening round – but could well be a lively outsider at 75/1.
Check out all our pre-tournament odds on the 2014 ISPS Handa Wales Open over at our main site now.