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Page last updated at 05:23 GMT, Wednesday, 1 June 2005 06:23 UK

European Tour stats attack

REUTERS STATS PREVIEW FOR THE CELTIC MANOR WALES OPEN, ROMAN ROAD, 2-5 JUNE

THE LOWDOWN

Simon Khan
Celtic Manor's Roman Road layout finally steps from out of the shadow of its bigger, younger brother, Wentwood Hills, to stage its first European Tour event this week.

Course designer Robert Trent Jones Jnr finished Roman Road first but it is Wentwood Hills which has staged all five of the event's previous editions.

Roman Road is some 600 yards shorter at 6,743 yards and a par-69 rather than 72 but will still give a strong field a serious test.

It has been constructed on two sides of a sizeable Welsh hill and is extremely undulating from tees to greens. It has a handful of water hazards but only one lake, on the par-four 399-yard 14th, really comes into play where a hoiked tee-shot on the dogleg left will end up in the drink.

WHERE IT WILL BE WON AND LOST

EASIEST HOLE: Roman Road is packed with fascinating, well thought-out holes but the par-five, 529-yard 16th looks to offer some respite.

It's a slight dogleg right on to a tightish landing area with trees lying in wait on the left of the fairway. Most, though, should be able to reach the decent-sized putting surface in two blows to set up a two-putt birdie.

There are only two par-fives on the course. The other is the 586-yard third, which is pretty much all downhill and so also reachable in two although approaches will need to carry large trees 100 yards short of the green.

HARDEST HOLE: Since there are no previous stats to compare it with, it is no easy task to pick out of the toughest hole at Roman Road simply because there are so many tricky ones.

On the face of it, the fourth should be a reasonable birdie opportunity at only 335 yards but it's all uphill - just like the 16th at Wentwood Hills, in fact - and most players will be happy to walk away with a par four having needed to take driver off the tee.

We reckon, however, that the par-four sixth will really sort the men from the boys in the field. It's long at 461 yards and even finding a tight, sloping fairway (right to left) is no easy task.

Most lies will offer an uneven stance and a long-iron approach will need to be perfectly judged to hit a small green which is guarded by bunkers left and right.

THE MEN TO WATCH

As usual, there's a good sprinkling of big names at Celtic Manor for one of the shortest courses of the season.

Colin Montgomerie is entered alongside previous winners Paul McGinley (2001) and Paul Lawrie (2002), with last year's breakthrough winner Simon Khan back to defend his title.

Our hunch, though, is for Swede Henrik Stenson whose Stats in every department of the game - bar putting - have never been better than this season. If he finds his touch on the greens, he could take some beating.

Information: Reuters Stats



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