The World Will Be Watching Wales
The Ryder Cup, arguably the biggest sporting event in the country’s history, will be conducted in early October at Celtic Manor Resort
“CROESO I GYMRU — WELCOME TO WALES.” IT IS THE GREET- ing in one of Europe’s oldest languages that any Ameri- can traveling over for the Ryder Cup in October will soon become used to hearing. The Starred-and-Striped
guests will instantly notice the sincerity, too. For as Carwyn Jones, the
country’s political leader, puts it: “This is the one we’ve been waiting for.”
By James Corrigan
Celtic Manor’s Twenty Ten Course is the first layout ever built and designed specifically for the Ryder Cup.
The biennial meeting between Europe and the United States will be the biggest event ever staged in the Principality, which boasts a population of just under 3 million. In 1999, Wales hosted the rugby union World Cup and as a country that holds the oval-ball game as its national sport, these were proud times. But as Jones — the First Minister of the Welsh Assembly — explains, the showdown at Celtic Manor Resort is in a whole new ballpark.
“When you consider the number of people who will come to Wales and the number of people who will watch it on TV, this will be in a different league,” says Jones.
“It’s a phenomenal opportunity for us. We will be able to spark the interest of millions and show that not only have we got a cracking course at the Celtic Manor, but there are other fantastic courses all over Wales. And we can also show them the wonderful countryside, the great coastline, all the history with all those castles.
“The world is just starting to realize just
what Wales has to offer and the Ryder Cup
will be huge in spreading the word.”
The First Minister’s enthusiasm clearly
conveys the excitement building in the
country. In truth, it has been ever since the
selection committee made its historic
decision in 2001. Jones’s predecessor,
Rhodri Morgan, was central in the winning
bid as the newly-formed Assembly
recognized the possibility and threw itself
behind the Celtic Manor campaign.
Recalls Morgan: “We looked at it and
said: ‘Right, Wales could never aspire to
attract the Olympics or the football World
Cup. So what’s the next biggest thing?’ In
terms of viewers and being able to reach out
to the all-important business communities
of the U.S. and Far East, it’s the Ryder Cup.
This was our Olympic Games. And we
were euphoric when we won the gold.”
All of Wales is. There’s also the rich
Welsh connection with the Ryder Cup
which makes it seem like such a perfect fit.
One of the most famous captains in the match’s history was Dai Rees, the feisty little professional from the industrial heartlands of the Rhondda Valleys who in
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