NEWPORT’S Phillip Price has issued a stark warning on the future of Welsh golf.

Price, who today begins his quest to become the first winner of the ISPS Wales Open, believes the tournament is integral to golf remaining as a fixture this side of the Severn Bridge.

The tournament has switched from a traditional June date and is safe for 2014, but will once again be reviewed by the European Tour schedulers after that.

And Price, who admits he’s struggling big time to retain his European Tour card, feels the loss of the Wales Open would have dire consequences for Welsh golf.

“I hope the move to August is helpful, but I don’t think we have a stronger field and I think Sir Terry Matthews is disappointed by that,” Price confessed.

“Hopefully the tournament is exciting, but I hoped the date change would make people want to play. It’s the scheduling again I would imagine, but as it’s a Ryder Cup qualifying event I thought that would work.

“Welsh golf is having a poor spell at the moment, there are only two guys left with a full Tour card (Price and Jamie Donaldson, who doesn’t play this week) and the previous generation doesn’t seem to have found a way through.

“The juniors now are fantastic, but it’s 10 to 15-years until we see the benefit of that.

“The Wales Open is really important to Welsh golf, we need it, I hope it carries on and my fear is that if we lost it, that would be it, gone forever and no Welsh presence on the European Tour.

“Throughout the 90s we were in that position and it would be a devastating blow to lose the Wales Open, really, really disappointing.”

Price is hopeful of making a first cut since May this week, but admits his own game is in poor shape.

“I’ve been struggling really badly, I don’t think I’ve made a cut since May (he’s missed eight in a row) and I haven’t played that badly, just average,” he said.

“I missed the cut last week when I thought I was going to turn it around and hopefully in the last week we’ve spotted something that will help. My swing changes from practice to tournament and it causes a few erratic shots.

“Thursday to Sunday is so different to practice with my game, anxiety is making me a little quicker through my swing and that’s a problem.

“I still think I can win on the European Tour, but it gets more difficult as it goes on, but little things give you cause for optimism.

“I’ve come back before from the brink, but I’ve got to pick it up a lot in the coming weeks, I’ll need a top ten I’d have thought and it’s a shame I’m in this position.”

Price is very impressed with the condition of the Twenty Ten course.

“It’s lovely to be back here, I’ve never seen the course looking so good and it’s nice to see it as such, it’s drier than usual and hopefully that will attract the crowds,” he said.

“The greens are quick, we might enjoy a dry Wales Open and that’d be lovely and a novelty.

“The whole week is really nice for me, I get to go home and sleep in my own bed, though I still have to load the dishwasher!”