Celtic Manor, home of this year's Ryder Cup, lacks in history and tradition, it makes up for in class and style.
Celtic Manor is one of the premier golf clubs in Wales and hosts an annual European PGA Tour event, the Wales Open. The event always draws an excellent field, which was headlined this year by U.S. Open Champ to be Graeme McDowell, PGA Champ to be Martin Kaymer, as well as both Molinari's, Luke Donald, Quiros, Jimenez, and a number of other of Europe's best.
This year's course sets up well for players who are accurate off the teebox. The landing zones have been narrowed and bunkers and water come into play if your ball goes to long, or deviates off course. Unquestionably, this benefits the shorter but more accurate European team. Holes 2, 4, 6, 12, and 16 exemplify the premium that is put on accuracy at Celtic Manor. Each of these beasts (#2 weighs in at a whopping 610 yards) requires players to thread hazards on either side of the fairway and still requires long carries over green side bunkers or water on the second shot. For a good look at the course, visit the UK Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/interactive/2010/sep/30/ryder-cup-2010-interactive-course.
As I write this the matches for tomorrow have been announced:
Match 1: Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson vs. Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer
Match 2: Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar vs. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell
Match 3: Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods vs. Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher
Match 4: Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton vs. Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington
I was 1/4 on the American side and 1/4 with the Euros. I could stretch it to say that I was 2/4 since I called out that Lefty and DJ would be great partners... but I kept them on the bench for the morning matches.
I would have really liked to see Rickie Fowler out in the first wave becuase I think that he, more than anyone else on the US team, has the ability to be a fire-starter. He can match the Euros flash and flare, he out-brights them at their own game, oh yeah and hes a pretty damn good golfer too.
Cink and Kuchar is another one I question. yes they are both from Atlanta and went to GA Tech, but I don't see them meshing. And going up against the two Irishmen, they will certainly need some luck coming down the stetch.
Check back in tomorrow for updates!