Monday, April 27, 2009

Captains Clash at Celtic Manor

Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin, the Captains of Europe and the United States for The 2010 Ryder Cup, will come together in a competitive arena for the first time since their respective appointments when they line up in The Celtic Manor Wales Open from June 4-7, 2009, at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, South Wales. Montgomerie, who was selected as European Captain in January, will be playing in his seventh Celtic Manor Wales Open and competing for the second time on The Twenty Ten Course – the first course in history built specifically to host The Ryder Cup – where last year he opened with rounds of 69 and 68. For Pavin, who took over the reins from Paul Azinger last December, it will be his first visit to The Celtic Manor Resort and his first look at a course where his charges will tackle Montgomerie’s European Team from October 1-3, 2010. Not surprisingly, the 49 year old Californian admitted he was very much looking forward to the prospect. “When I was appointed United States Ryder Cup Captain I spoke of what a great thrill it was for me to have this wonderful honour,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is the most dynamic and intense experience a competitive golfer will ever have and for me personally, the dream will begin to become reality with my trip to Wales in June. “I have heard a lot of great things about The Twenty Ten Course and I cannot wait to see how it is set up for The Celtic Manor Wales Open as well as imagining how it may be set up for The Ryder Cup itself in 18 months time. “I started my professional golf career in Europe and have extremely fond memories of those days and the wonderful people that I encountered along the way. I look forward to bringing my wife, Lisa, to Wales and connecting with the people. “As Captain of the US Team, I am determined to lead our Team with passion and determination, but in the spirit of great sportsmanship and camaraderie. In these tough global economic times, particularly, we need to keep this wonderful event in perspective. Don’t be surprised to find us hanging out in pubs the week of the Wales Open enjoying friendly banter about the possibilities of 2010. “Colin and I have met each other on three occasions in The Ryder Cup and it will be great to see him again. We are both passionate guys with a genuine love for the game and it will be fantastic to play in the same tournament together on the same course where we will both have the honour of being Captains in what I believe is the greatest event in golf.” Montgomerie admitted he was once again looking forward to teeing it up in The Celtic Manor Wales Open and welcomed the news that his opposite number would be alongside him in the field. “It is tremendous news that Corey is playing and myself and Gaynor look forward very much to welcoming him and Lisa to Wales,” said the European Captain. “Throughout his career, Corey has shown himself as a great competitor and I am sure, like me, he will be striving to win The Celtic Manor Wales Open as well as looking ahead to his own plans for next year’s Ryder Cup. “I always enjoy playing in The Celtic Manor Wales Open. It has additional significance as we are playing on the course where next year’s Ryder Cup will unfold. It is set up to challenge the best and, being a course with a whole host of tempting options and punishing hazards, there will be much for Corey and I to examine.” Montgomerie will bring one of the most impressive playing records of any European golfer to The Celtic Manor Wales Open. Aside from his record eight Harry Vardon Trophy successes, he has also 31 European Tour International Schedule titles to his credit, the most recorded by any British golfer in history. However, it is in The Ryder Cup that the 45 year old Scot has excelled on the international stage. He has played in eight matches and is, not only unbeaten in each and every one of his eight singles encounters, he also had the honour of holing the winning putt for Europe on two occasions; at Club de Golf Valderrama in 1997 and at Oakland Hills Country Club in 2004. Pavin’s visit to the Principality will represent the 1995 US Open Champion’s first appearance in a European Tour event outside the Major Championships since he finished in a tie for seventh place in the Scandinavian Masters at Arlandastad Golf in Stockholm in August 2007. On his home US PGA Tour, Pavin has triumphed 15 times, while his international roll of honour includes victory in the 1993 World Match Play Championship at Wentworth Club in England – where he beat Nick Faldo on the final green of an enthralling final – and success by three shots in the 1983 German Open at the Golf und Landclub in Cologne, beating Seve Ballesteros and Tony Johnstone into second place. He has also recorded tournament victories in Japan, Korea, New Zealand and South Africa. But, somewhat like his opposite number at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010, The Ryder Cup has played a defining part in his career, having competed in the 1991, 1993 and 1995 American Teams, posting eight wins in his 13 matches. He was also assistant captain to Tom Lehman at The K Club in 2006. He is the 26th United States Captain and will lead an American Team which, at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky last September, won The Ryder Cup for the first time since 1999. Pavin will also attempt to become the first US Captain since Tom Watson at The Belfry in 1993 to lead a team to victory on European soil. “I played my first Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island in 1991 and things like listening to the national anthem and feeling the pressure as a player cemented my love for the event in my blood forever,” he said. “I knew then I wanted to play in as many Ryder Cups as possible and dreamt about being Captain. Now that dream has come true.” Dylan Matthews, Chief Executive of The Celtic Manor Resort, welcomed the news that both Ryder Cup Captains were poised to tee up. “We extended a sponsor’s invitation to Corey Pavin as soon as he was appointed the United States Ryder Cup Team Captain and we are delighted that he has agreed to play, as we are with Colin Montgomerie, who has always been a popular attraction at The Celtic Manor Wales Open and we are delighted to welcome him back,” he said. “Knowing Colin as I do, I am sure he will be keen to give the leading contenders for places in his Team a good run for their money as they contest The Celtic Manor Wales Open on the course where they will aim to win back The Ryder Cup in 2010. “As for Corey, I am sure he is going to be a fantastic Team Captain but he also remains a seriously good golfer and I’m looking forward to seeing him play at The Celtic Manor Wales Open. I am also looking forward to showing him the high level of Welsh hospitality that he and his Team can expect at Celtic Manor in 2010.” The Twenty Ten Course hosted its first Celtic Manor Wales Open last year when Australian Scott Strange produced a sublime four day performance; four rounds in the 60s giving the 32 year old from Perth a four shot winning margin with a 22 under par aggregate of 262. The tournament itself first featured on The European Tour International Schedule in 2000 when Denmark’s Steen Tinning triumphed on the old Wentwood Hills course and he was succeeded as champion on that course by Ireland’s Paul McGinley (2001), Scotland’s Paul Lawrie (2002) and Englishmen Ian Poulter (2003) and Simon Khan (2004). From 2005 to 2007, The Celtic Manor Wales Open was contested on the Newport venue’s Roman Road course with the winners there being Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez (2005), Sweden’s Robert Karlsson (2006) and Richard Sterne of South Africa (2007).


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