29 Jan 2008

Ryder Cup Wales, in partnership with the Sports Council for Wales’ Élite Cymru programme, has today named the professional golfers who have been awarded invitations to play in the 2008 Challenge Tour.

As a direct benefit of hosting The 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales, Ryder Cup Wales has been able to secure opportunities for our most talented young professionals to play in events throughout Europe where success will help them gain their Playing Cards for the full European Tour.

It has been revealed that Southerndown’s Llewellyn Matthews has secured the maximum number of invites for Challenge Tour events this year. The 23-year-old propelled himself into the Walker Cup reckoning after chalking up a stunning victory in the St Andrews Links Trophy with a record low aggregate last June. Matthews also qualified for the Open at Carnoustie, retained his Order of Merit title and successfully defended his Welsh Amateur Championship in August at Royal St David's.Golf07

"After a hugely enjoyable career in amateur golf, I am looking forward to playing as a professional. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to gain great experience playing with the very best players in Challenge Tour events throughout Europe," explains Matthews. "I am especially looking forward to playing on home soil and in front of Welsh supporters at the Ryder Cup Wales Challenge Tour event at the Vale Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort in July."

Rhys Davies from Bridgend and Craig Smith from St Mellons have also been given the maximum number of invitations to 7 Challenge Tour events in addition to those played in Wales.

John Jermine, Ryder Cup Wales Chairman, said, "The Sports Council for Wales and Ryder Cup Wales work together to maximise the help and support available for the best young Welsh golfers and announcing these invitations for the Challenge Tour is great news for the players who I am sure will do their very best to take full advantage of this exceptional opportunity."

The National Lottery funded Élite Cymru programme currently helps ten rising young golf stars by providing sports science support, medical back-up, career and education advice, coaching, financial help as well as access to first-class training facilities.

Philip Carling, Chair of Sports Council for Wales, said, "The right to play on the Challenge Tour is a major benefit for our young professional golfers and an important stepping stone on the way to the very top. Ryder Cup Wales has done exceptionally well to secure these invitations and I am delighted that the Sports Council for Wales, through Elite Cymru, is able to help our players to maximise this opportunity."

Previous beneficiaries include Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge, winners for Wales of the 2006 World Cup, who are great examples of what is possible for our talented youngsters.

In 2007 twenty-four invitations were awarded to six Welsh professionals who played in twelve tournaments throughout Europe gaining invaluable experience of international competition. Another twenty Welsh golfers were also able to compete in the FIRSTPLUS Wales Challenge Tour event that was played at The Vale in July.