Race to Dubai: ISPS Handa Wales Open

Race to Dubai:   ISPS Handa Wales Open

A mere two hours and 30 minutes separates the opulence of the exclusive Wentworth Club and the Showcase of the European Tour from the knock down, discounted (and frankly) tacky looking Celtic Manor resort and an also ran competition struggling for proper sponsorship but for those chasing Ryder Cup entry, it’s 150 minutes that could be well worth it. Welcome to South Wales! (…and by the way, you are welcome to it!)

Date:                     31st May – 3rd June 7th 2012

Venue:                 The Celtic Manor Resort (The Twenty Ten Course), City of Newport, Wales

Far better than the ridiculous resort that engulfs it is the stunning 2010 Course that was built exclusively to host the World’s greatest golfing event – The Ryder Cup, in 2010. With a mind melting six signature holes (how do they do that?) the track offers a links land feel alongside lakeside lined challenges – where water hazards feature on no fewer than half of the holes and classic risk reward considerations frequently add to the drama. A tough finishing stretch culminates in an 18th hole with a sting in the tail…

Yards:                   7,378 yards

Par:                        Par 71


For a competition with winners held in such high regard as Ian Poulter, Robert Karllson and Graeme McDowell – surprising how not one of them has bothered to show face this weekend. Thus leaving spaces instead for the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez (40/1), Paul McGinley (175/1), 3 Rhys’ (Davies (80/1), Pugh (600/1) and Enoch (750/1)), Knut Borsheim (where do they get them?) (750/1) and likely local lad Zhiqun Lam (1,000/1). Oh, and don’t forget Millenium year winner Steen Tinning (400/1 – all Bet365). (Steen who you ask?)


As last year, it will be accuracy and length that will be major factors once again in 2012. And if not, scrambling is also key what with that thick Welsh wet grass that will nestle balls deep and mess up a tidy score card quite easily.

Ones to watch:

Swede Alexander Noren (25/1 with Ladbrokes); who was winner here in 2011 and also winner in his Native Sweden within weeks to help him rise to 14th in the Race to Dubai in 2011. Comes to Wales off the back of two top tens in April that have helped earn him much of his income for the season to date. Currently 83rd in the World Rankings and 43rd in the R2D but its this period of golf that really suits his game and so watch the charge up the rankings this week.

Spains relatively new kid on the block, Pablo Larrazabel (41/1 with BetDaq) shot a brilliant closing 67 here last year showing his true might (ahead of his maiden win in Germany a month later) in a spell that resulted in a 4th (in Wales), and 11th and then the victory in Munich. Has had two top tens in the last 5 starts and an increasing number of low scores – in particular 67s and 68s and seems to be hitting form at the right time for the lucrative summer spell and a charge up the R2D rankings.

Ones to win:

With exceedingly short odds, it’s the man of the hour with the fantastically smooth and fluid swing – Paul Lawrie (14/1 with Bet365) that could set the heather alight here. Coming off a stunning second place, final round “best of the day” 66 and a crucial £350k closer to a Ryder Cup spot at Wentworth, and as a previous winner here in 2002, no one currently looks a more likely winner in the quality light field this week despite the memory of an 8 putt on the 2nd in 2010.

Another Scot. Following The Great Nations new found admiration for one time Major Champion Paul Lawrie – and following a conscious decision to work harder on (or quit) The Tour, his bretheren from the Motherland will take note of Lawries significant advances up the Race to Dubai and a strong bid for an valuable automatic Ryder Cup spot and be inspired to deliver stronger performances (as McIlroy did after GMac’s major win) in a bid to prove that The Hallowed Land is not a one trick pony now that Sandy Lyle has gone off the boil somewhat… The real possibles then include Richie Ramsay (70/1), Scott Jamieson (113/1), Stephen Gallacher (85/1), Peter Whiteford (151/1), David Drysdale (85/1) and Marc Warren (94/1 – all BetFair).

Trick Shot

Local lad Rhys Davies is quite capable of turning on the style when required – and for just a top ten finish you can see returns of 11/2 (William Hill) – and hes had 6 of them since the Saab Wales Open in 2010.

And for a sure thing, surely the thing to do is opt for a double chance with Molinari and Lawrie (Pa) that will return you 11/2 with SkyBet. Not bad odds for the most on form duo playing.

Jenks Out!