Course Overview. The Twenty-Ten course at Celtic Manor needs no introduction – at 7,354 yards the par 71 offers a decent test to the professionals with generous fairways encouraging a healthy smash off the tee, however with water lurking on many holes there’s no room for serious waywardness.
The exposed track, which is a fusion of the old Trent Jones Jnr-designed Wentwood Hills track combined with 9 new holes added by Ross McMurray back in 2007, features five par 3s and four par 5s to create its overall par of 71 and it’s those holes that may well hold the key to success around these parts. Scoring on the par 5s is essential, as it often is for the modern-day golfer, however survival on the tough par 3s is just as critical at Celtic Manor. The short holes play tough and those players who can tame the 3rd, 7th, 10th, 13th and 17th over the course of the 4 days should set themselves in good stead for a decent week.
Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key statistics for this week’s event that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at the Wales Open which was played here at Celtic Manor until 2014 with the Twenty-Ten Course being used from 2008 to 2014 specifically: Current Form | Event Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 2014 (Wales Open) Joost Luiten, 14/1; 2013: Gregory Bourdy, 40/1; 2012: Thongchai Jaidee, 125/1; 2011: Alexander Noren, 66/1; 2010: Graeme McDowell, 22/1.
For a summary of winners’ odds on the European Tour for the past 10 years click here.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here. The hot and sunny weather that the southern part of the UK has enjoyed recently will break down as we head towards the start of this week’s event with heavy, thundery showers expected to give the course a good soaking.
Thursday and early Friday look the most at-risk periods of the 4 days for weather delays to happen, after which the situation improves somewhat. Temperatures in the low 70s Fahrenheit and light to moderate winds of 10-15mph will make this a fair test without being excessively easy or difficult. The sun should make more regular appearances as the event progresses, with Saturday likely to be the warmest and most pleasant day for golf.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Analysing the final stats of the past winners on the Twenty-Ten course from 2008-14 gives us a little more insight into the type of player suited to this test:
- 2014, Joost Luiten (-14). 290 yards (51st), 63.5% fairways (12th), 80.6% greens in regulation (4th), 71.4% scrambling (6th), 1.74 putts per GIR (19th).
- 2013, Gregory Bourdy (-8). 284 yards (54th), 53.8% fairways (38th), 66.7% greens in regulation (26th), 62.5% scrambling (6th), 1.73 putts per GIR (13th).
- 2012, Thonghchai Jaidee (-6). 287 yards (35th), 59.6% fairways (22nd), 73.6% greens in regulation (7th), 36.8% scrambling (55th), 1.66 putts per GIR (2nd).
- 2011, Alex Noren (-9). 304 yards (1st), 59.6% fairways (9th), 76.4% greens in regulation (2nd), 70.6% scrambling (3rd), 1.82 putts per GIR (31st).
- 2010, Graeme McDowell (-15). 283 yards (36th), 71.2% fairways (12th), 80.6% greens in regulation (1st), 50% scrambling (34th), 1.67 putts per GIR (7th).
- 2009, Jeppe Huldahl (-9). 274 yards (37th), 55.8% fairways (53rd), 70.8% greens in regulation (17th), 66.7% scrambling (2nd), 1.69 putts per GIR (6th).
- 2008, Scott Strange (-22). 276 yards (41st), 75% fairways (22nd), 80.6% greens in regulation (10th), 78.6% scrambling (4th), 1.62 putts per GIR (1st).
Aside from Scott Strange’s win in 2008, the updates made to the Twenty-Ten Course to make it Ryder Cup ready essentially toughened it up. The yardage and course setup suggests that bombers should prosper here, however they certainly don’t have it all their own way if you look at the contenders and winners of the Wales Open before it dropped off the schedule in 2014.
Since 2008, of the 7 winners (Strange, Huldahl, McDowell, Noren, Jaidee, Bourdy and Luiten) the only players who I’d class as possessing anything more than moderate length off the tee are Alex Noren and Joost Luiten and I suspect that the shorter hitters won’t be as penalised as the card might suggest. It’s also fair to say that this event was one of the sterner tests on the schedule with single-figure totals under par getting the job done in 3 of the final 4 Wales Opens.
No particular stats stand out from the numbers above, with winners having a generally good week in all departments with perhaps a leaning towards Greens in Regulation and Putting.
Incoming Form: Joost Luiten had been knocking quite loudly on the door prior to victory here back in 2014, finally converting after recording two consecutive top-5 finishes.
Gregory Bourdy, Alex Noren, Graeme McDowell and Scott Strange had all posted at least one top-10 finish in their past 7 starts to hint at enough form to justify an investment, however Thongchai Jaidee and to an even larger extent Jeppe Huldahl were tougher to find with patchy incoming results:
- 2014, Joost Luiten: 4/12/3/MC/18/51/MC/56/26/52/4/5
- 2013, Gregory Bourdy: MC/11/MC/21/12/59/8/58/34/49/64/23
- 2012, Thonghchai Jaidee: MC/20/42/41/64/MC/29/25/21/56
- 2011, Alex Noren: 13/31/8/MC/WD/MC/23/4/MC/5/11/MC
- 2010, Graeme McDowell: MC/14/20/33/31/6/MC/MC/8/28/26/28/4
- 2009, Jeppe Huldahl: 23/MC/12/49/52/MC/MC/65/MC/MC/MC
- 2008, Scott Strange: 7/33/MC/25/2/21/MC/14/14/35/MC
Course Form (back to 2010): To back up Luiten’s current form credentials the last time we played here, he also arrived here having come close to victory on each of his previous two attempts at the Twenty-Ten Course and was understandably the favourite to win 6 years ago.
Like Luiten, Gregory Bourdy also had strong course form to encourage his backers prior to lifting the trophy in 2013; prior to that, winners’ form here at Celtic Manor was a little patchier:
- 2014, Joost Luiten: 2/4
- 2013, Gregory Bourdy: 21/10/39/2/14
- 2012, Thonghchai Jaidee: 39/26/MC
- 2011, Alex Noren: MC/39
- 2010, Graeme McDowell: 39
- 2009, Jeppe Huldahl: Debut
- 2008, Scott Strange: Debut
Despite a reasonable weather forecast with moderate breezes accompanying the sunshine and odd shower once the thunderstorms have cleared, I still can’t see this turning into a birdie-fest and, for me, the key to success is quality approach shots having kept drives away from the worst of the trouble.
The Bent/Poa putting surfaces aren’t the toughest on Tour and will reward good golf shots, however the emphasis for me is far more about hitting greens in regulation and patiently accumulating a score. Par-3 scoring may well prove to be a critical element in the final analysis of this week’s event, which again points towards strong iron play.