If the 2004 Ryder Cup Wales Challenge can produce similar drama and nail-biting excitement as was witnessed during last year’s inaugural event, then the European Challenge Tour is set for yet another thrilling week at the Northop Golf and Country Club, Wales.
Last season, Welshman Craig Williams took full advantage of his local knowledge to emerge victorious from a four man sudden-death play-off – where the 26 year old holed the kind of winning putt that golfing dreams are made of.
Tied on 17 under par after 72 holes, Williams – who won the Welsh Amateur Stroke Play Championship at the Northop Golf and Country Club in 1999 – went in to the sudden-death shoot-out with the English trio of Robert Coles, Robert Rock and Sam Walker.
Standing on the 18th tee for the second time that day, all four players found the fairway with their drives. Walker put his second shot closest to the pin at around 15 feet, with Williams landing his ball 40 feet from the flag.
Both Coles and Rock came up short of the last green and pitched up before Williams stood up and rammed his birdie putt into the back of the cup, clenching his fist in celebration to the delight of the Welsh crowds.
Walker went on to squeeze his birdie putt past the hole, handing Williams a fairytale, maiden Challenge Tour victory.
With 15 Welshman in the starting field, we could see another home victory this week, with Garry Houston among the favourites to do so.
The 33 year old, already a winner on this season’s Challenge Tour following his own play-off victory against England’s Gary Emerson at the Galeria Kaufhof Pokal Challenge, is third on the Rankings with €47,872 and also plays under the attachment of Northop Golf and Country Club.