The European Tour has journeyed to the outskirts of Newport for this week’s Cazoo Wales Open at Celtic Manor.
The tournament represents the mid-point of the seven-week ‘British Isles Swing‘ and will be staged over the club’s TwentyTen course.
During last year’s pandemic-affected Tour, the south Wales club hosted back-to-back events in August.
The TwentyTen course, named in honour of the year it hosted the Ryder Cup, is located close to Junction 24 on the M4.
It is situated around three miles east of Newport city centre, and laid out along the scenic Usk Valley.
TwentyTen is largely a flat parkland course with a handful of undulating holes towards the end of the round.
There is a good quantity of sand, plenty of subtle changes in direction, with water coming into play on eight holes.
On the tee
A number of those who competed at The Open Championship in Kent have made the 220-mile trip to Monmouthshire.
However, the field is significantly weaker than those which teed-up at Royal St George’s and The Renaissance Club these past two weeks, and also nowhere near as strong as the one which travelled to Ireland for the opening event on the British Isles Swing.
Two players who posted top-20 finishes in Kent are at Celtic Manor: These are Aaron Rai (T19) and Justin Harding (T19). Rai returned to the world’s top 100 as a result of this performance.
Although there are a number of players with strong course histories at Celtic Manor, many of these performances date back almost a decade.
With regards to last year’s double header, the only golfers teeing-up who registered T20s in both of these events are Connor Syme, Callum Shinkwin and Sebastian Heisele.
Syme actually posted back-to-back top-10s, while Sam Horsfield – who won the first of these two Celtic Manor tournaments – is also among the entries this week.
Latest odds for this week’s Cazoo Open at Celtic Manor
One pro who will eye-up this week as providing the perfect opportunity for returning to the winner’s circle, is world No 58 Matt Wallace.
The 31-year-old from Hillingdon, north London, is a former world No 23 but has lost his way a little in recent months.
However, his game certainly hasn’t disintegrated and probably requires just a minor tweak, plus a touch of inspiration, to make it fire on all cylinders once again.
One other player in a similar position to Wallace is Spaniard Adrian Otaegui, for whom Cazoo might just be the ideal tournament for rekindling the winning touch.
Otaegui is a three-time champion on the European Tour and has played pretty solidly in recent weeks.
The Celtic Manor Resort, home to a spa hotel and 54 holes of golf, opened for business in 1994.
The original Roman Road course was the first to be built, followed by Wentwood Hills which staged five European Tour events between 2000 and 2004.
But when Celtic Manor was named as venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup, the club set about building a new course.
This was named TwentyTen, which was designed and laid out on land already occupied by Wentwood Hills.
The final result was a course which essentially retained nine holes from the original Wentwood Hills design, while also creating nine brand new ones.
And during the three years it took to construct TwentyTen, the Wales Open was staged over Roman Road.
By 2008, TwentyTen was ready to be unleashed on the European Tour and has now hosted a total of nine top-tier events.
The third course at Celtic Manor is the Montgomerie, which opened 14 years ago.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
MC* – Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves