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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Clarke's Wales Open call
The Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales
The Celtic Manor will stage the 2010 Ryder Cup
Darren Clarke has urged Europe's rising stars to follow his example and enjoy their home comforts instead of heading across the Atlantic.

Clarke made his plea as he prepared for the Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open, which gets underway on Thursday.

While several of Europe's golfing elite have chosen to prepare in America for next week's USPGA Championship, Clarke has opted to be part of a strong field that has gathered in Newport, South Wales.


Tiger Woods is getting to his peak now and I want to catch him at his best
Celtic Manor owner Sir Terry Matthews

The Wales Open is growing every year and is played on the course that will stage the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Four Ryder Cup players are in this week's field: Clarke himself, Lee Westwood, defending champion Paul McGinley and Phillip Price - ready to enjoy himself on home soil.

All four will be heading off by private jet on Sunday night for the USPGA at Hazeltine in Minnesota - laid on for them by Celtic Manor owner Sir Terry Matthews.

At the Wales Open, Price will partner Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance and Northern Ireland rookie Graeme McDowell, who won last week's Scandinavian Masters, in the first two rounds.

The Wales Open purse is 1.1million, with an increase to 1.5m set for next year along with a switch to a new date that will no longer clash with USPGA preparations.

Next year's event will be held from 29 May to 1 June, the week after the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth and two weeks before the US Open.

While Clarke is a confirmed fan of the Celtic Manor Resort, multi-millionaire Matthews is confident that the Wales Open will soon become a major tournament on the golf calendar for the top players - especially world No 1 Tiger Woods.

"He will be here," said Matthews, who has already sunk 100m into improving the resort, "you can be certain of it.

"We will work at it. He is an important person to come here. He's getting to his peak now and I want to catch him at his best."

Woods currently commands a fee of around 1.3m to play in a European Tour event, and has appeared in the Deutsche Bank SAP Open in Germany for the last four years.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is a target for a future Wales Open

"We're working closely with the European Tour to make the Wales Open better every year," Matthews added.

"We have a great entry list this year but we recognise that being a week before one of the top US events is a problem for some of the biggest names and are pleased to have a better date."

McGinley returns to defend the title he won in a five-hole play-off with Paul Lawrie and Daren Lee last year, when persistent rain reduced the event to 36 holes.

The Dubliner's victory effectively sealed his Ryder Cup place with the win but he has struggled to regain that sort of form and comes into the event on the back of four missed cuts in his last five events.

Lee Westwood is also seeking a confidence boost ahead of next month's contest at the Belfry, as his winless streak approaches two years.

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26 Jun 02 | Wales
12 Feb 02 | Golf
29 Sep 01 | Golf
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