Just one week remains until the 2014 Ryder Cup and the glare of the golfing world is on Celtic Manor, the last European venue to host the tournament, for the 2014 ISPS Handa Wales Open and all four days will be broadcast live on the new Sky Sports Ryder Cup channel.
The Newport resort is the ideal venue to start feeling the Ryder Cup buzz ahead of next week’s showdown at Gleneagles, as this was the place where Colin Montgomerie’s European team secured a thrilling victory over the Americans by a single point four years ago, a scoreline which was again repeated in dramatic fashion at Medinah in 2012.
In spite of the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia taking a much-needed break after the hectic run of US-based FedEx Cup play-off events, four of Europe’s rested Ryder Cup stars have chosen to hone their skills and form at this week’s Wales Open.
England’s Lee Westwood, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn and Welshman Jamie Donaldson are the quartet from Paul McGinley’s 12-man team teeing it up in Wales.
Westwood was part of the European team which regained the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor four years ago under the stewardship of Colin Montgomerie, while Björn was a vice captain for that contest and was joint runner-up in Wales Open two years later, behind Thongchai Jaidee.
Gallacher returns to action for the first time since finishing third in the Italian Open, a performance that helped earn him one of Paul McGinley’s captain’s picks, alongside Westwood and Ian Poulter.
For Donaldson, the highest placed out of the four on the Race to Dubai in third position, it promises to be a special week, with the home favourite certain to receive a warm reception from the Welsh galleries as he prepares to make his Ryder Cup debut next week.
The 38 year old 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 as the tournament marks its 15th anniversary.
Defending Wales Open champion is Frenchman Grégory Bourdy, who produced a brilliant finish last year to capture his fourth European Tour title, having birdied the closing three holes, including making a 30ft putt on the last, to finish two strokes clear of American Peter Uihlein.
Also in the field this week is Paul Casey, winner of last week’s KLM Open, and the trio of Ross Fisher, Edoardo Molinari and Francesco Molinari, all of whom were Ryder Cup team-mates alongside Westwood at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010.
This year’s Wales Open will be the 15th consecutive year the tournament has been held at the venue in Newport, Wales, but a new deal has not been signed by the European Tour to continue keeping the event on its schedules from 2015, meaning this year’s running may be its very last.
The tournament has sometimes struggled to attract the world’s top players, while Celtic Manor hotel owner Sir Terry Matthews has often bemoaned the event’s position in the golf calendar, but the 2010 Ryder Cup venue wants to keep a presence on the European Tour and is a possible venue for the World Match Play Championship from 2015.
Sky Sports will be screening all four days from the 2014 ISPS Handa Wales Open exclusively live on Sky Sports Ryder Cup, Sky’s new dedicated channel which temporarily replaces Sky Sports 4 for the weeks surrounding the 2014 Ryder Cup.
Rob Lee presents the action at Celtic Manor from a studio overlooking the 18th green, with commentary and analysis throughout the tournament provided by Steve Beddow, Richard Boxall, Andrew Coltart and Wayne Riley.
Subscribers can watch the action live online via Sky Go, get live scores and additional information about the tournament via the Sky Sports golf website, or follow @SkySportsGolf on Twitter for all the latest news and updates from the course.
In addition, Sky Sports Ryder Cup will also be showing live action from the Ladies European Tour over the same weekend as the Wales Open, with live coverage of the final two rounds of the Tenerife Open de Espana Femenino from Costa Adeje.
As part of its rebranding of Sky Sports 4 for the forthcoming match between Europe and the United States, Sky Sports Ryder Cup will over 330 hours of golf across a 14-day period, including 36 hours of live coverage from the Ryder Cup itself at Gleneagles.
Sky Sports is the only place to see extensive live play from all three days of the 40th Ryder Cup and, in addition, a series of preview programmes will be shown in the run-up to the event.
There will also be official films of previous tournaments and a review programme following the competition, as well as live coverage of the official opening and closing ceremonies and exclusive interviews with Ian Poulter and European captain Paul McGinley.
Visit europeantour.com for more information about 2014 Wales Open at Celtic Manor.
.Thursday 18th September
Round 1 LIVE: 10.30am-1.30pm & 3.00pm-6.00pm Sky Sports Ryder Cup . Friday 19th September
Round 2 LIVE: 10.30am-1.30pm & 3.00pm-6.00pm Sky Sports Ryder Cup . Saturday 20th September
Round 3 LIVE: 1.30pm-5.30pm Sky Sports Ryder Cup . Sunday 21st September
Round 4 LIVE: 12.30pm-5.30pm Sky Sports Ryder Cup