By Paul Martin at Celtic Manor, Sportsbeat - 0203 026 3780
AVID golfer Shaun Murphy hopes being in the setting of one of Europe’s most famous Ryder Cup triumphs can inspire him to a second successive Welsh Open title.
The event is being staged at Celtic Manor, 11 years on from the resort’s fairways hosting one of the all-time classic contests between Europe and the USA.
The hosts won 14.5-13.5 on that occasion, Graeme McDowell sealing victory in the very last singles’ match, and Murphy is pleased to be back at a venue he knows well despite the courses themselves being closed under current guidelines.
“I’ve played a lot of golf here and done a lot of charity events, it’s a place I like coming to,” he said.
“We drive past it on the way to Cardiff and I always look longingly at it.
“I’m just devastated the First Minister of Wales didn’t reply to my email asking him to open the golf courses for us this week! He’s probably got better things to do, to be fair.
“The crowds are great in South Wales and I love playing in this neck of the woods, so it’s a shame they’re not here.
“But we’ve got used to it and I’m at the stage of the season where I’ll take inspiration from anything. If being back in South Wales is the thing that catalyses my season, so be it.”
Last year’s Welsh Open triumph, which Murphy won in style by beating Kyren Wilson 9-1 in the final in Cardiff, was the world No.7’s most recent ranking title.
He has not made it past the third round of a ranking tournament since September’s European Masters and admitted relief was the overriding emotion after seeing off Surety.
“The last thing you want to do as defending champion is underperform and go out in the first round, so it’s job done and I’m looking forward to the next challenge,” he said.
“I’m feeling good in my game and if I can keep that practice up I could be dangerous. I’ve played myself into a hole this season and I’m playing for points to get into the Players’ Championship.
“I’ve put a lot of work in since my last outing and there have been times this season I’ve been really struggling.
“But I look back very fondly at this event last year – it was one of my best performances in a final. I’m six matches away from doing the same this year – who knows what could happen.”
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