The Twenty Ten course is ready to welcome the world (Getty Images)
Wales prepares to welcome the world
The final touches are being made to The Celtic Manor Resort which, in just a few days, will become the focus of the sporting world.
By Paul Symes, europeantour.com
With less than week to go until the opening tee shot of The 2010 Ryder Cup, the final preparations are taking place at The Celtic Manor Resort, the host venue in the City of Newport which in six days’ time will be the epicentre of the golfing – and indeed sporting – world.
On Saturday, European Captain Colin Montgomerie was accompanied on an extensive tour of the entire site by his wife Gaynor and David Garland, The European Tour’s Director of Tour Operations.
Both men were full of praise for the fabulous facilities in the huge and indeed hugely impressive Tented Village, where the myriad of attractions on offer include a PGA Teaching Centre, an EA Sports Lounge, a Citi Business Centre, a Ryder Cup Memorabilia Tent, a Big Screen, the Emirates Nearest the Pin and Longest Drive simulators, and live music stages – to name but eight.
After a brief stop for lunch in the media centre Montgomerie went out to inspect the Twenty Ten Course, which will welcome 135,000 spectators over the three match days, with thousands more expected to attend the preceding practice days.
“Both Colin and I were delighted with the condition of the course,” said Garland. “It is exactly where he had hoped it would be, just six days before the start of the match.”
The previous day two members of Montgomerie’s 12-man Team, Francesco Molinari and Ross Fisher, pitched up to familiarise themselves with the contours of the 7,378 yards layout which, according to the Italian, was in even better condition than at the Celtic Manor Wales Open in June, when Francesco’s elder brother Edoardo (tied fourth) and Luke Donald (third) finished behind their Ryder Cup team-mate Graeme McDowell.
If familiarity breeds contentment, that quintet should make a formidable force in the coming days.
The course, which was the first to be purpose-built for The Ryder Cup, was fashioned by Ross McMurray of European Golf Design, who has been successful in balancing the demands of the golfers inside the ropes with the spectators outside them.
The 18th is a truly fitting finishing hole, with a natural amphitheatre created by the steep banks overlooking the green, which are capable of housing several thousand spectators.
At present the only people out on the course are the Tour’s trusty agronomy team – or greenkeepers to you and me – whose exacting standards will ensure that every blade of grass is in the right place and at the right length.
It is, if you like, the calm before the storm – though the advance forecast is actually rather encouraging, with only scattered showers and light rain expected to fall on the Usk Valley.
Whatever the weather, the elements won’t dampen the enthusiasm and excitement of the good folk of Newport and beyond, who are expected to descend on The Celtic Manor Resort en masse to celebrate the first Ryder Cup to be played on Welsh soil.
And whilst the Welsh won’t have one of their own in the Team itself, Bridgend’s Rhys Davies – already a European Tour champion and undoubtedly a Ryder Cup contender of the future – will be heavily involved behind the scenes at The Celtic Manor Resort.
The last player to assume the role of the “13th man” was a certain Martin Kaymer in Valhalla two years ago. With a Major title already in the bag, the German has done rather well since then.
Kaymer is expected to play a major role in Europe’s attempt to wrest the trophy back from their American counterparts. If Montgomerie’s men succeed where his predecessor Nick Faldo’s failed, the cheers will be heard from Bangor to Barry Island – and beyond.