Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Countdown to Gleneagles 2014: Memories of the Manor

This past Sunday Gregory Bourdy defeated Peter Uihlein on the final hole at Celtic Manor in what could possibly be a future Ryder Cup singles clash, the Twenty Ten course produced a dramatic conclusion but of course nothing to rival the epic Monday in October 2010. The ISPS Handa Wales Open launched the countdown to the 2014 Ryder Cup and for Gregory Bourdy there could not have been a better start to his campaign to make the team and emulate Jean Van de Velde and Thomas Levet in representing Europe.

Every time the Wales Open is played it brings back memories of the 2010 Ryder Cup and the magical Thursday which I attended, the final practice day and the fantastic opening ceremony. Seeing the venue for the first time that morning was breathtaking, and I came away thinking that this was the best venue in world golf, so much room, such great viewing places for spectators and great room for hospitality, as well as it being a genuinely good golf course.

The Twenty Ten course is not designed by some major champion or career golf course architect, it was designed by the team at European Golf Design and is the first purpose built golf course for the Ryder Cup, and to that end it deserves to attract a much stronger field than the one which assembled near Newport last week,

However, it is fitting that it became the first qualifying event for the next Ryder Cup, replacing the traditional start of the campaign - the OMEGA European Masters, which is played this week.

The next 12 months will be dramatic, compelling, heartbreaking and exciting as the best golfers in Europe compete across the globe for 9 automatic spots and 3 captain's selections for the 2014 European Ryder Cup team.

As I did in 2010 I will be attending the final practice day and Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Ryder Cup after having purchased my ticket last month, I may however be there all week in a media capacity but that is yet to be confirmed. The crowds and the atmosphere on a Ryder Cup Thursday is like that of a final day of a Major Championship and it is great fun to see the teams preparing for the biggest and most pressure-packed three days in golf.

The opening ceremony was special and was very much the template for all future opening ceremonies in the Ryder Cup, something I think the whole of the golfing world wished that Medinah would follow in 2012, but they didn't. Rhydian Roberts, Sarah Kempe, Only Men Aloud and Katherine Jenkins wowed the crowd with their performances before the teams entered the arena to the accompaniment of the Sky Sports Ryder Cup anthem - Promise Me from the movie First Knight.

It was a truly special day and one I will cherish forever, the 2014 Ryder Cup will though be even more special, given that it is staged at a place I used to work. I am sure I speak for every golf fan that the next 12 months cannot go quickly enough and another epic edition of golf's greatest show gets under way.

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