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Miguel Angel Jimenez set for Wales Open defence

Miguel Angel Jimenez will be looking to follow up his third-place finish in the PGA Championship by carving a slice of history in the seventh edition of the Wales Open.

No player has won the European Tour event in successive seasons but the 42-year-old Spaniard will have the chance to do just that this week following his eye-catching victory in Newport 12 months ago.

Jimenez launched the 2005 tournament with an opening six-under-par 63 before clinching a four-stroke win over compatriot Jose Manuel Lara and Swede Martin Erlandsson with a course record-equalling 62 in the final round.

"Last year was my first visit to the Celtic Manor resort and I was very impressed by the wonderful facilities there and loved every minute," Jimenez was quoted as saying on the tour's official website.

"This year my aim is to put in another strong challenge on what is a tough golf course. It will be difficult because the tournament will once again attract a high-quality field."

Among the leading contenders for the first prize of 364,000 euros are New Zealander Michael Campbell, playing in Europe for the last time before he defends his U.S. Open title next month, and eight-times European number one Colin Montgomerie.

Campbell, who finished in a tie for 15th place last year, said: "I have always felt at home at Celtic Manor and I'm looking forward to returning to Wales.

"It is definitely one of the leading tournaments on the tour."

Montgomerie, who has achieved most things in the game, will be aiming to plug a hole in his golfing CV, having never previously won in Wales.

The 42-year-old Scot believes Celtic Manor will provide the perfect venue for the Ryder Cup in four years' time.

"The facilities are superb and the developments I've seen over the past couple of years there auger well for the Ryder Cup in 2010," said Montgomerie.

The Roman Road course will be used for the second time while work continues on the Wentwood Hills layout, the Ryder Cup venue.

The Wales Open, which offers a prize fund of 2.18 million euros, starts on Thursday.


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