The Celtic Manor Resort will forever be associated with that most glorious of weeks in European Tour history, when Colin Montgomerie led his troops to a dramatic victory over the United States in The 2010 Ryder Cup.
Two years on, four of the triumphant team, plus their lionhearted leader, are back in South Wales this time competing for the ISPS Handa Wales Open, as then-Captain Montgomerie joins Molinari brothers Edoardo and Francesco, Ross Fisher and Miguel Angel Jimenez in a return to The Twenty Ten Course.
The course, one of three in the Usk Valley resort that borders a river of the same name, was opened in 2007 as the original Wentwood Hills course that was opened in 1999 was overhauled by European Golf Design’s Ross McMurray, who completely redesigned holes one to five, 14, and 16-18, and made minor alterations to the rest – originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
A 7,378 yard, par 71 layout that is often open and exposed to the wind, water also plays a major role on the course, coming into play on 10 of the 18 holes.
One of the home favourites this week, Rhys Davies, currently holds the course record, a stunning nine under par 62 posted en route to a second place finish in the 2010 Wales Open.
Ahead of Thursday’s start, europeantour.com caught up with two of the Ryder Cup Team of 2010, the Italian Molinari brothers, to hear their thoughts on how a return to Celtic Manor can inspire them to further glory this week, and got their run-down on all the ins-and-outs of this visually stunning yet often treacherous track.
“It’s fantastic to be back here,” said the elder of the brothers, Edoardo. “It was one of the best weeks of my golf career and I’m hoping the memories of The Ryder Cup can inspire me to do well again this week.”
The Turin born siblings became the first brothers to compete together in a Ryder Cup side since Bernard and Geoffery Hunt played for the Great Britain and Ireland Team of 1963 when they participated in the 2010 staging in Wales.
Francesco Molinari, two years Edoardo’s junior, said: “I think it’s a golf course that has been changed over the years to get it ready for The Ryder Cup and they did a really good job of that as it’s become a really tough test of golf.
“If the weather is fair, like it looks to be this week, and the course is firm, then it becomes very difficult indeed.”
Francesco Molinari on The Twenty Ten’s front nine:
1st, 465 yard par four
“A dogleg to the left, it’s really important to hit the fairway off the tee as it can be quite a long second shot. The green as well is guarded by bunkers so it’s certainly a tough one to start with.
2nd, 610 yard par five
“The second is a long par five; sometimes they use the front tee which can make it reachable in two. Again it’s quite a narrow fairway and if you are going for it with your second you need to be very accurate. If you are left with your approach then the slope of the green will feed your ball away and there is a swale on the right which can also leave you with a very difficult shot.
3rd, 189 yard par three
“A good par three and you have to be careful with your club selection because there is the lake guarding the front and a run off area at the back. If you go long then it’s a really tricky up and down from there.
4th, 461 yard par four
“The fourth is a strong par four, depending on the wind a lot, but it usually plays quite long leaving a long to mid iron into the green. Distance control is important as the green has lots of contours so it is sometimes hard to keep the ball on there.
5th, 433 yard par four
“Very important to hit the fairway from the tee as you need have as much control of your ball as possible for the approach. If you are short you will roll back into the water but also if you are long then it’s very tricky to get down in two. If the flag is on the top left then it brings the water more into play.
6th, 422 yard par four
“Another par four with a dogleg to the right with water on the right all the way from the tee to the green, so you can decide to be more aggressive with the tee shot and leave yourself a short iron in or play more conservative off the tee to be safe but leaving yourself a tougher shot into the green.
7th, 213 yard par three
“A strong par three again, using probably a long iron and even a five wood or three wood – if it’s into the wind – into a small green and a small target area and another tough test.
8th, 439 yard par four
“The eighth is another par four, maybe a little shorter than the first few, but a narrow tee shot with bunkers right and left and then when you play your tee shot from the fairway the green slopes quite severely from right to left so you don’t want to miss it right because it’s really tough to get it up and down.
9th, 580 yard par five
“The ninth is a long par five that I think is reachable in two for most of the guys so you can even decide to hit three wood off the day to stay away from the bunkers and then lay up to the right leaving yourself probably a wedge. There is obviously out of bounds left all the way from the tee to the green which makes it even harder.”
Edoardo Molinari on The Twenty Ten’s back nine:
10th, 210 yard par three
“The tenth hole is a long par three, and the green slopes from back and from right to left so where you land your tee shot is very important. The wind is also a factor as it swirls around the green which can make it difficult.
11th, 562 yard par five
“A long-ish par five but a good chance for an eagle if you can find the fairway from the tee. Mostly downhill but you have to miss the water down the left and the bunker on the right to have a chance. The green is well defended by bunkers and there is a big swale to the left of the green.
12th, 458 yard par four
“Another long par four at 458 yards and the second shot plays uphill so you can quite easily come up short with your approach. There is a lake that guards the front of the green which you have to be aware of so choosing enough club is very important.
13th, 189 yard par three
“13th is a tough par three across the lake so depending on whether the flag is on the right you keep it a little left to be safe but there are bunkers to the back left too to think about. Very dangerous.
14th, 485 yard par four
“A very good par four, and I think it’s one of the best holes on the course. The tee shot is difficult because there is the lake on the right and the rough on the left and the second shot is the other way round as you have a big lake on the left and big bunkers on the right. A very long green, and especially when the flag is back left it becomes a very difficult hole.
15th, 377 yard par four
“A great match play hole actually, because it’s a short par four that is reachable but with a lot of danger around the green: a little stream on the left, with mounds and heavy rough on the right side of it. Lots of risk and reward.
16th, 499 yard par four
“It is a long par four, very long to the centre of the green, and you need to carry the bunkers on the left and with your shot into the green you want to aiming left as all the green slopes from left to right so you can let it feed in from there.
17th, 211 yard par three
“17 is quite a long par three to a very long green with two levels so the difficulty is trying to stop the ball on the same level as the pin so club selection is important. If you miss the green on the right then it can be very difficult to get up and down.
18th, 575 yard par five
“A great finishing hole; I always like a course finishing on a par five, and on most of the days this one will be reachable in two. If you lay up it’s not an easy third shot as if you spin it too much you can end up back in the water, while there are also two big bunkers you can end up in which can be difficult to get up and down from.”