Poulter prepares for Wales Open defence
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2004 The Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open | Preview | 03 Jun 2004
The Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open, now into its fifth year as a European Tour event, gets underway tonight Australian time with a field that includes Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Joakim Haeggman, Michael Campbell and Phillip Price as the likely favourites.
The event’s schedule change last year moved the event from an August date to two weeks before the US Open and opposite the Memorial. Several of those here including Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Joakim Haeggman, Lee Westwood, Phillip Price, Paul Lawrie and Brian Davis will be heading for New York either next week for the Buick or for the US Open the following week at Shinnecock Hills.
Poulter is the defending champion having won here last year by three over Darren Fichardt, Jonathan Lomas and Australia’s Jarrod Moseley. Poulter is coming off some rather indifferent form of late. He was sixth at the Italian Open and prior to that had made the quarter finals at the Accenture, however the last few weeks have shown a lack of form. That he was the winner here last year and sixth in 2002 indicates that he has a real liking for Wentwood Hills and a visit here may be just what he needs to give him the boost for the US Open.
Joakim Haeggman has had three top tens in his last four starts and earlier in the season, won the Qatar Masters. He has to be the most improved player in Europe this year and his third placed finishes in both Germany and at the PGA last week against quality fields, certainly attests to that. That he finished 24th at his last start here in 2002, at a time when he was half the player he is currently, indicates that he may well win this week.
Phillip Price has played solidly the last two weeks without doing anything startling, but his second round of 65 at the Volvo PGA was impressive. He has had several good finishes here and should be considered from a wagering viewpoint.
Paul Casey is another with the credentials to win especially given his sixth placing at the Masters in April. He has played reasonably since and in his only visit here he finished 33rd in the rain shortened version of the event in 2001.
Celtic Manor Resort, Wentwood Hills, course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, his father having played a role in the design of the first course on the Resort, the Roman Road course.
The course opened in 1999 and has played host to this event in subsequent years. In 2001 it was named as the venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup reflecting the regard in which it is already held just four years after opening. It is interesting to note, however, that considerable course changes are again planned for the Ryder Cup. It currently measures 7400 yards (6750 metres) and the greens are sown in Providence Creeping Bent and IGER-bred ryegrass varieties on the fairways and tees. It has significant movement in the land form throughout the course, even into the greens.
Conditions this year are said to be soft after recent rain, but the greens speed has not been diminished with several players suggesting the greens are as quick as they ever have been here.
Australasians entered are Campbell, Jarrod Moseley, Marcus Fraser, Nick O’Hern, Peter O’Malley, Peter Fowler, Stephen Scahill, Richard Green, Terry Price, Wade Ormsby and Daniel Gaunt.