By Graham Thomas
Ian Woosnam has backed calls for Wales to host The Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl in the near future.
The former world No.1 believes his home country should be added to the list of host nations, with Northern Ireland set to resume hosting the tournament in 2019 at Royal Portrush.
Wales has never hosted The Open in 146 years, but Woosnam believes that should change if practical difficulties can be overcome.
Speaking before competing at the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl, Woosnam told Dai Sport: “We have a lot of great courses in Wales, but if we want to host The Open Championship, then this would be the place to play it.
“The big question is the space around the course because it is now such a massive event.
“You need a massive area of something like 200 acres just to house the tented village and everything that comes with that.
“I think that might be an issue, but I would support any attempt to get The Open here.
“I have been in favour of it for years and I just wish the people concerned would come and see me a bit more and ask my advice.”
Among those the former Masters champions is alluding to would be Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s economy minister, who claimed last month he had held productive discussions with the Royal and Ancient (R and A), the tournament organisers.
Woosnam was due to begin his first round at 2.10pm on Thursday, alongside fellow former Major winners Bernhard Langer – winner of the tournament in 2014 when it last came to Porthcawl – and John Daly.
He added: “My own form is pretty good. It’s just my chipping and putting at the moment that is letting me down, but if I could get everything together here, then I’d have a chance.
“Injuries are always an issue for me. I’ve had a bad back for 40 years, pretty much and I have good days and bad days.
“But the walk around this course is not too difficult, so we’ll just have to see what happens.”
Woosnam has been joined on the Seniors circuit this year by fellow Welshman Phil Price, who has turned 50 and who recently won the Winston Golf Open in Germany.
“It’s nice to see Phil playing on this tour and he doesn’t need any advice from me. He’s been out playing in America and struggling a little bit, but it was great to see him come back and win in Germany, which will have given him some real confidence.”
Woosnam says he has been buoyed by his own recent performances and by watching Jordan Spieth win Sunday’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in a thrilling finish.
“It just showed how the game can change so suddenly. One moment Jordan Spieth was really struggling and he gets a bit of a break and makes that chip and putt on 13.
“He hits a great shot at the next hole and then from there it was like two different players. That’s what golf is all about and it’s great for the game.
“He’s a lovely young lad, he speaks really well, and he’s great for the game of golf.
“What’s great about Spieth is that he has an all-round game. He drives pretty well and his irons are good. He’s an incredible chipper and putter and that’s why he’s so successful.
“He’s only 23, so even if he doesn’t get the career Grand Slam at the USPGA next month, he’ll get there, I’m sure.”
Woosnam also believes the tournament showed Rory McIlroy is on his way back after some leans months for the Northern Irishman.
“Rory is coming back to form. He seem to be re-energised and Rory is such a great player that the only thing letting him down at the moment is his putting. Once the secret of that comes back, he’ll be away again.
“The game is in good shape at the very top level with the leading players, but I’d like to see them smile a bit more, be a bit happier, and appreciate the crowds a little bit more.”
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