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Into the Dragon's Den

It's been quite some time since I last found myself in the position of delivering a few words of thanks to 'all the people who have made this possible...', the greenkeepers, playing partners, catering staff and so on (certainly while holding any sort of silverware – even a spoon!), but on the strength of the evidence you'll find inside this weighty Ryder Cup preview issue there are a number of people I would like to acknowledge, first for the generosity of their time but above all for the passion and enthusiasm they share for their subject.

As the Ambassador for the Celtic Manor Resort – and Honorary Captain of The Twenty Ten Club – who better than the Wales legend that is Gareth Edwards to take you on a tour of the layout that will stage the Ryder Cup? At 63, Edwards made the full conversion(!) to golf when he retired from international rugby in 1978 (his final appearance being in a victory over France in the Five Nations at the Arms Park for a third consecutive Triple Crown) and he was approached by Sir Terry Matthews some 10 years ago to become a part of the team involved in the bid to bring the Ryder Cup to Wales.

Gareth Edwards - Ambassador for Celtic Manor Resort

"When you stop and think about it seriously, it's incredible what Sir Terry has achieved," says the former scrum-half, once described as ‘the greatest player ever to don a Welsh jersey'. To bring the Ryder Cup, one of the greatest sporting events in the world to Wales, well you'd never have thought it possible. With Sir Terry, anything's possible. And it's not only the money but the vision and the drive to see something like this through. I don't think it's possible to emphasise enough what Sir Terry has done for Newport and Wales generally."

Off a competitive handicap of 7, Edwards is the perfect host and, having watched the course take shape and played it a couple of times in the company of captain Montgomerie he knows it as well as anyone. "The thing is, with The Twenty Ten," he says in that wonderfully warm and engaging accent, "is it really doesn't give you anything. It's a tough track. The architect Ross McMurray has been very clever in shaping the fairways and blending in the bunkering, too. That's a strong feature of this course. But it's around the greens where the real difficulty lies, in the run-offs and the swales. When they get these surfaces up to the sort of speeds these players are used to, well, its frightening."

With his record for Wales and the Lion's Tours, Edwards has known more than his share of pressure on the rugby pitch. But since hanging up his boots he has also felt the heat of top-notch team golf, and tells the story of being invited to a crucial tie in the Pro Celebrity television series in the ealy 1980s. "Sam [Torrance] called me up one day and asked me if I could fly out to play at Le Touquet," recalls Edwards. "I thought why not, should be a bit of fun. They always seemed like such a laugh when you see the show on TV. But when I got there Sam took me to one side and told me that he needed to win this particular match to clinch the series...and his tone was serious. Put me under a bit of pressure, that did. Anyway, we went out and won – I don't want to take too much of the credit but you could say Sam honed his skills of captaincy on me! We had a bit of a celebration that night, too. I've never seen so much champagne!"

Torrance, Edwards, Monty and Sir Terry Matthews – all play a part in our 40-page Ryder Cup preview. My thanks, also, to Sky Sports' Tim Barter for an illuminating analysis of the key players and also to his boss, Jeremy Darroch, head of BSkyB, for an entertaining interview and indeed for a sneak preview of the 3D television pictures which Sky Sports are rolling out with their wall-to-wall coverage of the 38th Ryder Cup.

It's going to be a blast – however you look at it.

Enjoy the issue.

September 2010

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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