It was a very tough year for the European Tour in 2020, just as it was for sports organisations everywhere. A lot of very hard work went into ensuring that top level professional golf could return in Europe after the enforced shutdown and the resurrection of the Wales Open was one of the real benefits of that work. The tournament at Celtic Manor in 2020 was the first edition of the Wales Open since 2014 and a strong field greeted its return.
The tournament was such a success that the Wales Open was quickly added to the schedule for the 2021 European Tour and hopes are high among Welsh golf fans that Celtic Manor will once again become an annual stop off for some of the leading lights of European and international golf. The Wales Open, after all, is a tournament which has been won by Paul Lawrie, Ian Poulter and Miguel Angel Jiménez, among others, since its foundation in 2000.
Betting Tips for 22nd to 25th July 2021
The Wales Open was one of several new events put on by the European Tour to fill a hastily put together schedule. The success of the tournament at Celtic Manor means that it is back for at least one more year in a major boost to Welsh and British golf. The tournament now has a sponsor and has backing from Wales’ biggest sporting star which leaves it with the full title of the Cazoo Open Supported by Gareth Bale.
A host of European Tour stalwarts are also supporting the event by turning up to Celtic Manor. That said, the sandwiching of this event between the Open and the Olympics has limited the chances of any golfing superstars (Bale aside) competing. Matt Wallace is the biggest star in the field and the bookies’ favourite at a general price of 9/1. The Englishman has the class to compete but he is surely too short and there is better value around.
The first place to turn for value is the 20/1 available about Laurie Canter. The Englishman continues to frustrate both himself and his backers with an inability to capitalise on his brilliance from tee to green. The distance that he hits the ball off the tee and the relentless quality of his approach play will ensure that Canter gets more than his fair share of scoring chances at Celtic Manor. He is just one good week on the greens away from finally making his breakthrough on the European Tour and the Cazoo Open is as suitable a tournament as any to take that big step forwards.
Canter placed fifth in the second of the two events at Celtic Manor last year. Conditions were more difficult that week than the first week and the forecasted winds and rain for this weekend should be a boost to his chances with scoring likely to be not quite so strong. The same is true for one of the few people to finish above him last year, Matthew Jordan. He goes about his business differently to Canter. His putting is fine but he needs to improve on his approach play. Some decent play recently suggests that Jordan’s irons and wedges are starting to behave so he is taken to contend at odds of 28/1.
|2021||Celtic Manor Resort||Nacho Elvira|
|2020||Celtic Manor Resort||Romain Langasque|
2021: Nacho Elvira
Nacho Elvira has never made life easy for himself. The 34 year old Spaniard has found himself in some very good positions to claim a maiden European Tour win but never before done enough to get over the line. The 2021 Cazoo Open was the third time that Elvira had made it through to a European Tour playoff and for the first time, he did enough to make that breakthrough win.
The sense of relief was obvious on the 18th green at Celtic Manor. Once again, Elvira had failed to close out a win on the European Tour, missing a putt on the final green for the outright win. He must have wondered whether another big chance had gone begging when he prepared himself for a playoff against Justin Harding. However, it was the South African who found the pressure too much, missing a fairly routine par putt on the first playoff hole to hand the win to Elvira.
Giving up the chance to win in regulation time might have actually helped Elvira. He admitted feeling nervous over his putts on the way home but then the worst happened and he threw away his chance. That disappointment released the pressure and Elvira said afterwards, “I was more calm in the play off than I was on the 18.” Typically, he still made life tough for himself with a couple of sloppy shots in the playoff but this time Elvira did enough for a win which boosted his world ranking by over 400 places.
2020: Romain Langasque
Of all the questions to be answered by the return of the Wales Open to the European Tour, one which did not have to be asked was whether the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor would be a quality venue. It is a world class golf course and produced an excellent tournament which was won by French golfer Romain Langasque thanks to a fantastic final round of 65.
Langasque played nice, steady golf for the first three days which is just what was required given the difficult scoring conditions. However, he found himself some way down the leaderboard and five shots off the leading pair of Sebastian Soderberg and Connor Syme. The Frenchman set off playing the same sort of steady golf that had served him well over the rest of the tournament but suddenly found his approach play was setting up chances and the putts were dropping.
After making the turn in 33 courtesy of three birdies it became clear that Langasque was a serious contender, especially as some of the players who began the day in contention started to falter. Three more birdies followed on the back nine and, crucially, Langasque kept bogeys off his scorecard where as Soderberg took eight on the last hole and Syme made a double bogey. The win was Langasque’s first on the European Tour and saw him qualify for a place in the 2020 US Open thanks to his position on the UK Swing Order of Merit which was introduced for 2020.