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Page last updated at 19:48 GMT, Thursday, 3 June 2010 20:48 UK

Wood knocking on Monty's door at Wales Open

CELTIC MANOR RESORT WALES OPEN
Venue: Celtic Manor Resort, Newport Date: 3 June - 6 June Starts: 0700 BST
Coverage: Score updates on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live and online. Saturday highlights at 2345 BST on BBC TWO Wales and Sunday highlights at 2230 BST on BBC TWO Wales. Live on Sky Sports 3

By Peter Shuttleworth
BBC Sport at the Celtic Manor

Colin Montgomerie gets to grips with the Twenty Ten course at the Wales Open
Colin Montgomerie gets to grips with the Twenty Ten course at the Wales Open

As Tiger and America's finest lie in wait, Colin Montgomerie may think having a Wood excelling at the Celtic Manor in the Ryder Cup's dress rehearsal is a worrying omen.

But as Englishman Chris Wood leads overnight, European captain Monty will be relatively happy that his Ryder Cup wannabes playing the 2010 showpiece's host course at the Wales Open are settling in well.

The Usk Valley is the venue where the Euro stars could become golfing kings, as Monty's men hope to regain the Ryder Cup trophy from the United States on the first weekend in October.

Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter may not be here, but Monty will be happy that the six of the best that currently occupy the Ryder Cup qualifying places are making this place seem like Europe's home.

Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Ross McGowan, Simon Dyson, Francesco Molinari and Alvaro Quiros would be in if the Ryder Cup was played tomorrow - and all answered Monty's call for Cup possibles to tackle the mammoth 7,378-yard course in the last event here before the big one.

Oliver Wilson, Rhys Davies and Edoardo Molinari led the Ryder Cup chasing pack in Wales, hoping for brownie and Ryder Cup qualifying points in equal measure.

Alvaro Quiros
On one hole I hit 280 yards off the tee and he hit 360 - the difference is dramatic

Colin Montgomerie on Alvaro Quiros

And the vast majority felt their way around the Newport course comfortably - all except two-time Ryder Cup winner Luke Donald, who followed up his second at the PGA Championship and Madrid Masters win by shooting a disappointing opening round four over par.

But Quiros clearly had a licence to thrill as the James Bond fan could not have picked a better time to fire in a hole-in-one.

The Spaniard's 200-yard feat at the par three third was watched by Monty, who partnered the European Tour's biggest hitter around the first 18 holes of this £1.8m tournament.

"It can't have hurt my Ryder Cup chances hitting a hole-in-one on the Ryder Cup course right in front of Europe's Ryder Cup captain," Quiros told BBC Sport.

"I was very happy with that shot but that was just one, the other 17 I didn't putt well so I was glad to get a hole-in-one there!"

The 27-year-old's six-iron heroics at the third was a rare highlight for Quiros, who ended the day on par 71 as four bogeys wiped out his two birdies and his hole-in-one.

But Quiros' psychological examination may just have endeared him to Europe's boss.

"He was three over earlier but you wouldn't have known it - he could have been four under at the time," Monty said.

"Alvaro had not a care in the world and got it back. He is a real European potential and there a few of them out there now, and I'd put Alvaro in the same context as Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy.

"And someone who can hit the ball that far, what an asset that is. On one hole I hit 280 yards off the tee and he hit 360 - the difference is dramatic.

"He can play the game, has a great mental attitude, would add spirit to our team room and is a real asset to the European Tour.

"He hits the ball such a long way - and our potential European team is full of long hitters. Westwood, McIlroy, Quiros, Harrington, Kaymer, Donald, Robert Karlsson and Paul Casey can all hit the ball miles - and that is a huge asset especially on a course of this length."

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Edoardo Molinari, the 2005 US Amateur champion, and home hero Davies, the in-form Welshman, were the pick of Monty's maybes as both shot a four under par 67 on the aptly-named Twenty Ten course.

Both Molinari and Davies sit just outside the top nine automatic qualifying Ryder Cup places and are in the slipstream of the overnight leader.

Molinari's younger brother, Francesco, who helped big brother win the 2009 World Cup but is in the Ryder Cup positions, is slightly off the pace at one under.

But the 27-year-old hopes his rollercoaster round of 70 - including five birdies and four bogeys - turns out to be a blessing in disguise.

"My round shows you can be on top of the world here one minute and in the doldrums the next," said Molinari Jr. "Patience is the key here.

"Of course I'd love to play in the Ryder Cup so you might say it is good to make mistakes now and not in October when the pressure is on, as players learn more from their mistakes."

Wilson and Kaymer join Molinari Jr on one under overnight, while McGowan dropped from five to one under after a nightmare final stretch - as Dyson had - to make do with par.

So it was not just a nice tan the Celtic Manor's first-day crowd left home with, they had seen a tantalising glimpse into the Ryder Cup future.



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see also
Wood takes early Wales Open lead
03 Jun 10 |  Golf
Davies can make Cup team - Donald
02 Jun 10 |  Golf
Montgomerie could turn to Price
03 Jun 10 |  Golf
Donaldson back to his best
02 Jun 10 |  Golf
Wales hopes to end golf hoodoo
01 Jun 10 |  Golf
Wales warned of Ryder Cup one-off
01 Jun 10 |  Golf
Monty dealt Wales Ryder Cup blow
28 May 10 |  Golf
Twenty Ten course in photos
03 Jun 09 |  Golf
Work starts on 2010 Ryder Cup
29 Sep 01 |  Golf
Wales Open - former winners
01 Jun 06 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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