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Unified front for Welsh Ryder Cup bid

Politicians from across the political spectrum - Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru - are lining up to support Wales' bid to stage the Ryder Cup for the first time in 2009.

Bid chairman Tony Lewis has had a full postbag of letters from National Assembly Members and MPs representing constituencies in all parts of Wales, and Conservative AM David Melding has tabled a 'statement of opinion' backing the bid.

Launched in June by First Minister for Wales, Rhodri Morgan, the bid is a joint venture involving the Welsh Development Agency, the Wales Tourist Board, Celtic Manor Resort (the official candidate venue), the Sports Council for Wales, the Welsh Golfing Union, the Welsh Ladies' Golf Union and Newport County Borough Council.

"Rhodri Morgan and his ministerial team pioneered the bid, but it is great to see individual AMs and MPs of all political persuasions and from across Wales coming out so strongly in favour," said former England cricket captain Lewis. "Staging the Ryder Cup would bring enormous benefits to Wales as a whole.

Our golf courses, hidden jewels in many cases, would attract more visitors as golf tourism increases, there would be a major investment in golf development and in tournaments at all levels, creating jobs and setting a much more compelling scene for inward investors."

The value to southern Spain when the 1997 Ryder Cup was held at Valderrama was estimated at 52 million while Ireland is expected to benefit by more than !00 million when the 2005 match is played at the K Club.

All the bids will be officially presented to the Ryder Cup committee by the end of this month, but the front runner is generally regarded as Scotland with six venues - Gleneagles, Turnberry, Carnoustie, Loch Lomond, Muirfield and St Andrews - all declaring an interest.

Sweden and the De Vere Slaley Hall resort in the north-east of England are also understood to have submitted bids. Meanwhile, in a bid to impress the Ryder Cup committee who will announce the successful country in January and the host venue during next year's Ryder Cup at The Belfry in September, Celtic Manor's Wentwood Hills course staged both the PGA Cup matches and the inaugural Celtic Manor Resort Wales Open earlier this year.

Funded by billionaire Terry Matthews, a Newport native who made his fortune from electronics in Canada, the bill for developing Celtic Manor is now in excess of 100 million and the resort's commitment to the Wales Open over the next five years could cost as much as 10 million.

Set in 1,400 acres of parkland, just five minutes from the Severn Bridge, the resort has 400 rooms, 32 suites, four restaurants, three golf courses, two health clubs and a spa.

*Celtic Manor has won the AA Hotel of the Year 2000 award for Wales. The AA, especially impressed by the Newport resort's outstanding facilities, design and service. In July, awarded five-star status to Celtic Manor last July. Celtic Manor's Forum Health Club and Spa was also 'highly commended' in the recent British Beauty Awards.



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