European Tour champions Stephen Dodd and Phillip Price will be the main focus of attention when the pair tee up on home soil at this week’s SWALEC Wales Challenge on the European Challenge Tour.
The duo, who between them have laid claim to six European Tour titles, have opted out of the Inteco Russian Open Golf Championship in favour of teeing up in their home country at the Vale Hotel Golf and Spa Resort in Cardiff.
Dodd is hoping his return to the Challenge Tour, where he has won twice in the past, will provide a timely confidence boost after struggling to rediscover the form which saw him lift the 2005 WGC – Algarve World Cup in Portugal in partnership with his compatriot Bradley Dredge.
He said: “I was born in Cardiff, so it really will be like a return to my roots for me. I’ve played the course a few times so I know it reasonably well. It’ll just be good to give something back to golf in Wales, because I am a proud Welshman. I just hope I can do myself justice, because I haven’t been playing particularly well this season.
“Hopefully I’ll find some form this week and get a confidence boost for the rest of the season. It won’t be easy though, because there are some very good golfers on the Challenge Tour.”
Compatriot Price, a star of the victorious European Ryder Cup Team at The Belfry in 2002, was a regular performer on the Challenge Tour in the early 1990s and since then he has won three times on The European Tour.
Other home contenders include David Park, also a winner on The European Tour, and Craig Williams, who won the Ryder Cup Wales Challenge in 2003 after a four man sudden death play-off.
Williams is one of three former winners in the field, with France’s Olivier David and Ireland’s Colm Moriarty completing the set. Twelve months ago, Moriarty held off the challenge of Chile’s Felipe Aguilar – who has subsequently progressed to, and indeed won on, The European Tour – to record his maiden Challenge Tour victory.
Other notable names in pursuit of the €140,000 prize fund include current Challenge Tour Number One David Horsey of England, who arrives in Wales fresh from his maiden Open Championship appearance at Royal Birkdale last week where he finished in a tie for 67th place.
Another player who will tee up at the 7,266 yards par 72 course on the back of a good run of recent results is Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello, who returns to Challenge Tour duty after claiming his second title at the Credit Suisse Challenge two weeks ago.
The SWALEC Wales Challenge is being staged as part of The Ryder Cup Wales Summer of Golf, a series of tournaments organised across the country to promote golf and celebrate Wales as the host nation of The Ryder Cup in 2010.