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Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor is a dream realised for Sir Terry

By Frank Malley

Sir Terry Matthews’ dream of Wales hosting the Ryder Cup for the first time at his Celtic Manor course will this week come true.

Computer entrepreneur Matthews, Wales’ first billionaire, has sunk millions into the resort in the build-up to this week’s event.

And the result is the Twenty Ten course, the first layout to be specifically built to stage a Ryder Cup.

The original Manor House in Newport was built in 1860 which was home to the Welsh gentry before it was donated to the Welsh Health Authority and turned into a maternity hospital.

Sir Terry was one of 60,000 babies to be born there and after making his fortune, bought it in 1980 to turn into a hotel.

Construction of the first golf courses on the site began in 1991. The old Wentwood Hills course, which hosted the Wales Open from 2000-2004, forms the basis of the Twenty Ten course.

Nine new holes were built and nine old holes extensively remodelled after Celtic Manor won the bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2001. It has staged the Wales Open for the last three years.

As well as designing holes with matchplay in mind, the layout can accommodate crowds of up to 50,000.

Graeme McDowell, who won the Wales Open in the summer with closing rounds of 64 and 63, is one of the resort’s biggest fans.

“I think the golf course with its linksy run-offs is less American-style, visually, than The K Club,” the Portrush man says.

“This should be a better fit for us and I believe we'll perform well around it. The 13th, 14th and 15th are going to be key holes. Virtually every match is likely to be going through there, whereas I expect very few matches to go to the 18th.

“Thirteen (189 yards) is a great par three where we'll be hitting a five or six iron to an elevated green with water short and right.

“With the pin front right, it will be a terrific matchplay hole. Fourteen (485 yards) can be a really brutal par four off the very back. Going down the left, you've got to avoid pulling your drive into heavy rough while there's a hazard down the right. Then you have a five or six iron to a very difficult green. Fifteen is a dramatic, risk/reward par four which is going to deliver a lot of birdies and eagles. It's probably a three-wood for most guys and completes what I see as a key part of the golf course.

“When I played there in June, I didn't attack the green on the 18th (575 yards) with a three wood because you're coming off a downslope over water to a reasonably small target.

“It's a great risk/reward par five where you'll see gambles in the fourballs and singles, but I would expect to see a few lay-ups in the foursomes.”

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