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WELSH PROS UP FOR THE CHALLENGE

1 Apr 2010

Welsh golf professionals Craig Smith, Kyron Sullivan, Mark Laskey and Tim Dykes will have the opportunity to fulfil their European Tour dreams with invitations in 2010 to play on the Challenge Tour, negotiated for them by Ryder Cup Wales.

The quartet have been selected to receive a series of invites to Challenge Tour events, the launch pad that helped Rhys Davies make his breakthrough when winning his first Challenge Tour event at the Vale Resort in 2009, from which he has gone from strength to strength.

RHYS DAVIES PRESS SHOT 2

The opportunity to play in the SWALEC Wales Challenge event, as well as a series of others throughout Europe, is one of the benefits received by Wales as part of hosting the 38th Ryder Cup at The Celtic Manor later this year.

"This is a huge deal for me and the other players," admitted Craig Smith, the Cardiff golfer who is now based in Abu Dhabi and will divide his time between the Challenge events and the Asian Tour.

"We all know how hard it is to obtain playing privileges on the European circuit, so what Ryder Cup Wales do for us, as competitors, is phenomenal.

"I can speak for each and every one of the guys that we are very grateful for the opportunity and we would like to do what Rhys Davies has done.

"This time last year he was playing out in Asia, as I have been, then he wins on the Challenge Tour in Wales and progresses onto the European Tour where he has just won his first Tour title in his rookie year.

"We all put in a lot of hard work, but you also need the opportunities and that is where Ryder Cup Wales come in.

"There are so many of us who are close to breaking through at the highest level but, without the opportunities Ryder Cup Wales give us, it is very difficult.

"The whole year rests on one week at Tour Qualifying, which can be quite a banana skin, but these opportunities can help to get us up there.

"I am getting some very good experience competing in Asia, it makes me a stronger competitor and, in particular, I would like to become the fourth Welshman to win the Challenge event in Wales."

Smith was third at the Welsh Challenge Tour event in 2007 and now he will also receive invites to seven other tournaments at the level below the full European Tour.

Barry’s Kyron Sullivan and Mark Laskey of Brocket Hall also have seven invites, while Wrexham’s Tim Dykes will receive four invites, plus the chance to play in the SWALEC Wales Challenge.

Ryder Cup Wales, in partnership with the Sports Council for Wales’ Elite Cymru programme and the Golf Union of Wales, have an integrated development programme to help young Welsh golfers and playing on the Challenge Tour is an important part of that initiative.

The four players qualified on the basis of previous results and performance, showing they could make the most of the opportunities on offer.

"Having Welsh players competing at the highest level in Europe is vital for their future development and the international profile of golf in Wales," said Ryder Cup Wales Chairman, John Jermine.

"We have all watched Rhys Davies establish himself as a true competitor on the world stage with his recent victory in the Moroccan Open and it is important that the opportunities which allowed him to fulfill his potential are now given to others.

"These four players have plenty of talent and experience but professional golf is so competitive that it is extremely difficult to gain entry to the best events and we are delighted that we have been able to secure these opportunities for them.

"Hosting The Ryder Cup in Wales has already made a huge difference to the golfers in Wales and we hope to see more Welsh players taking advantage of this unique opportunity for them to follow in Rhys footsteps and reach the top."

Sport Wales Chair, Professor Laura McAllister, said: "The opportunity for our young players to compete in Challenge Tour events is a direct result of The Ryder Cup. It is helping us to build on our rich history of golf success and provides us with the tools to help Welsh players compete at the highest levels.

"It has been tremendous to see how Rhys Davies, who has been supported by Elite Cymru, has used the Challenge Tour as a springboard to his career and I am sure he is of huge inspiration to fellow players."