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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 22:17 GMT 23:17 UK
Welsh Ryder win brings Scottish anger
The Celtic Manor resort
The Ryder Cup will arrive in Wales in 2010
Welsh joy at the decision to host the 2010 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor in Newport has been matched with Scottish bitterness and claims of cheque-book lobbying.

After long months of negotiations and political in-fighting the selectors decision announced at the Wentworth Golf course, in Surrey, has been warmly welcomed by Welsh politicians.

First Secretary, Rhodri Morgan said: "It is wonderful news for Wales.

"We have got nine years to take the benefit from it raising Wales' profile worldwide, especially in America and Japan where amongst the business community golf is the only game that counts."

Boasting a worldwide audience of 435 million, there are hopes the tournament will prove a long-awaited tonic to an area of south Wales laid low by searing jobs cuts.


One thing I hope comes out of it is a huge growth of self-confidence in Wales

Bid Chairman Tony Lewis

The third biggest sporting event in the world, will follow the 1999 Rugby World Cup, FA Cup and Worthington Cup finals just 12 miles away in Cardiff.

Scotland which last hosted the competition in 1973 had been early favourites to stage the prestigious contest, but the decision by PGA Chief Executive Ken Schofield to support the Wales bid proved decisive.

Critcism and anger is now being voiced by Scottish nationalists and tories who argue that commercial interests have unduly influenced the selection process.

It is claimed that a subsidiary company of the European Tour will be responsible for redeveloping the seven holes of the Celtic Manor's Wentworth Hills course.

In contrast billionaire businessman and resort owner Sir Terry Matthews said: "This is a great moment for Wales and The Celtic Manor Resort - and a huge opportunity for golf.

Billionaire Terry Matthews
The resort is owned by billionaire Terry Matthews
"This decision brings a new dimension to the sport by adding another nation into the golfing premier league."

The Welsh Development Agency (WDA) boasts that the contest is worth 67m although some insiders have estimated that 100-120m is a more realistic figure.

But while Friday's announcement will be a long-awaited tonic for a region laid low by ravaging cuts in the steel and manufacturing industry, the prospect of untold riches is being treated with with caution.

When Wales hosted the 1999 Rugby World Cup similarly extravagant economic expectations failed to come to fruition.

A survey assessing its economic impact of that contest has shown that for every 1 of public money spent on the tournament, 17 was added to the Welsh economy.

But most of the benefit was concentrated in and around Cardiff, and many tourist attractions in other parts of Wales were left worse off.

But no such reserve as far as the WDA is concerned.

With nearly a decade of anticipation and preparation, as well as a full schedule of build-up events, it insists that the benefits should begin almost immediately.

Sir David Rowe-Beddoe, chairman of the WDA, said: "The direct and indirect benefits will be worth millions."

Celtic Manor Resort course
Course expansion plans are to get under way
"We could not have hoped for a better opportunity to raise the profile of Wales globally. We intend to capitalise on the intense media interest and use it to promote Wales around the world."

It is inevitable that tourism - another of Wales's chief industries recently battered by the foot-and-mouth outbreak - will be boosted if only for hoteliers receiving some of the tournament's 50,000 followers.

And, as has been demonstrated in America and Ireland, plans to turn Wales into the newest golfing nations could reap huge rewards.

US golfers alone spend an estimated $24 billion on golf travel every year.

Tony Lewis, ex-international cricketer and bid-chairman, however, Wales's profile throughout the golfing world will be promoted.

"It is a national Welsh bid, and inward investment, tourism and profile will all be affected. And one thing I hope comes out of it is a huge growth of self-confidence in Wales."

Roger Pride, Wales Tourist Board Director of Marketing, said: "We have nine or ten years to build up a great platform on which to promote Wales as a golfing destination.

"Golf visitors generally spend more than leisure visitors, and they demand quality services and facilities."

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 ON THIS STORY
Video
"Welsh joy has been matched by scottish bitterness"
Video
"Celtic Manor owner Terry Matthews described the Welsh bid as irresistible"
Peter Corrigan, journalist Independent on Sunday
"This will revolutionise golf in Wales and do what the Millennium Stadium has done for Wales's prestige"
See also:

28 Sep 01 | Golf
The Ryder Cup contenders
28 Sep 01 | Golf
The battle of a Ryder Cup host
19 Sep 01 | Golf
Welsh poised for Ryder win
28 Sep 01 | Golf
Wales in line for Ryder Cup
28 Sep 01 | Scotland
Ryder Cup bid in the rough
28 Sep 01 | Wales
Lord of the Celtic Manor
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