27 May 2008

Rookie Welsh professionals Rhys Davies and Llewellyn Matthews have won sponsors’ invitations to play in next week’s Celtic Manor Wales Open.

The pair will tee up alongside reigning Open Champion Padraig Harrington and Ryder Cup stars Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Robert Karlsson and Miguel Angel Jiménez in the tournament which runs from May 29-June 1.Rhys Davies and Llew Matthews Wales Open May 2008

The invites are a welcome boost to Davies and Matthews as they take their first steps in professional golf having reached the pinnacle of the amateur game as Great Britain & Ireland team-mates in last autumn’s Walker Cup.

Davies was also a standout player in college golf in America, the breeding ground of some of the world’s best players including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald and Paul Casey. Having turned professional after the Walker Cup, a strong showing at next week’s Celtic Manor Wales Open would help his quest to secure a full European Tour card for next season.

"I’m very grateful to get an invite into the tournament and I’m really looking forward to it," said Davies.

"People have been telling me how good the new Twenty Ten course is and I know the amount of time, effort and money that has been put into it with The Ryder Cup coming to Wales in 2010.

"It’s my first professional event in Wales and that’s something to get up for and enjoy."

Matthews, like Davies, hails from Bridgend and his glittering amateur career included becoming the first man for 24 years to retain the Welsh Amateur Championship when he defended his title last year.

Matthews played in last year’s Celtic Manor Wales Open as an amateur invite and also qualified for The Open Championship at Carnoustie, but this will be his first European Tour start as a professional.

He said: "I can’t wait to play in the event. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to take part in one of the biggest tournaments on The European Tour and it’s great to be playing so close to home where I can count on some good support."

Davies and Matthews both benefit from a comprehensive range of support services including sports medicine, sports science and sports psychology support from the Sports Council for Wales’ Elite Cymru scheme.

Phil Carling, Chair of the Sports Council for Wales, said: "We believe that the Élite Cymru programme has played a significant role in the development of many of our young professionals.

"For Rhys and Llewellyn to be able to play in such a high ranking European Tour event on Welsh soil is a great opportunity for them."

Davies and Matthews are among six Welshmen offered sponsors’ invites into The Celtic Manor Wales Open. Craig Smith is another player aiming to graduate to The European Tour while David Park, Mark Pilkington and Kyron Sullivan are all looking to win their way back to the big time.

European Tour regulars Bradley Dredge, who was one shot shy of becoming the first Welsh winner of the Wales Open last year, Stephen Dodd, Phil Price, Garry Houston, Sion Bebb, Jamie Donaldson and Stuart Manley head a strong Welsh challenge which also includes Royal Porthcawl club professional Peter Evans, who wins a spot thanks to his performances in west region PGA events.

Tickets for all four days of The Celtic Manor Wales Open are available on the gate. Visit for more details.