6:00am Saturday 9th June 2012
By Michael Pearlman
THE WALES Open golf tournament at the Celtic Manor is likely to come to an end in 2014 with the resort keen to upgrade to a bigger event.
The ISPS Handa Wales Open, won this year by Thongchai Jaidee from Thailand, is guaranteed to be part of the European Tour for two more years but the Argus has learned there are no plans to extend the lifespan of the tournament beyond.
As detailed in the Argus this week, resort owner Sir Terry Matthews has become frustrated with the timing of the Wales Open, which clashes with the Memorial event in the USA, one of the premier PGA tournaments.
That means the top players in the world are rarely available to come and play and, in recent times, the Wales Open has also struggled to attract the biggest names on the European Tour.
Sir Terry told the Argus earlier this week that he was committed to keeping top level golf at the resort as part of his ten-year plan to cement the Newport resort as the top conference facility in the UK.
A spokesman for the Celtic Manor confirmed: “The present contract expires in 2014 and it is unlikely it (the Wales Open) will continue in its present form but we are keen to keep a big golf presence.
“We are looking at a number of options for big golf tournaments at Celtic Manor post 2014.
“While it wouldn’t be fair to say the Wales Open is definitely not going to go beyond 2014, there are issues to be overcome as were detailed by Sir Terry earlier this week.”
It is reported that one of the most likely events that could switch to the Celtic Manor is the World Match Play Championships, run by the IMG group.
The tournament is currently held in Marbella, Spain, at the Finca Cortesin resort, but has failed to draw in the crowds.
It also generally falls one week before the BMW PGA Championship and the travelling involved led to a number of stars skipping the event this year.
The Celtic Manor would love to have the likes of Lee Westwood and Rory McIllroy competing regularly on their Twenty Ten course designed specifically for the Ryder Cup.
“We might not have the Wales Open after 2014, but that won’t stop golf being played here,” said Sir Terry. “I can’t tell you what the next 10 to 15 years hold… but it’s what we are working on now.”
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