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From Celtic Manor to local golf clubs, Wales celebrates Ryder Cup final

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor
Pyle & Kenfig bar during the Ryder Cup
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Members of Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club watch the closing moments of the Ryder Cup matches. (Brandon Tucker/TravelGolf)

After watching the Ryder Cup matches at Celtic Manor Saturday and Sunday, Brandon Tucker played 18 holes of his own Monday at nearby Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club in Wales.

KENFIG, Wales -- It took until Monday, but Wales finally got its Ryder Cup to remember. And proof the sun does shine around here.

The 2010 matches, until the final day of competition, gained infamy for their long rain delays and faulty rain gear. There was some finger-pointing at Celtic Manor for its wet grounds -- and at the PGA Tour for bullying the Ryder Cup out of its traditional September date. Newspapers and talk radio suggested the event was failing. Thousands of fans argued otherwise, gutting out the conditions to watch along the golf course's fantastic closing stretch.

It all took a back seat Monday, as the world's best players from Europe and the United States delivered a finish as good as the Ryder Cup has seen.

I had a Sunday ticket to Celtic Manor, which allowed entry to the singles matches on Monday. But with sun in the forecast across South Wales, my foursome opted to fulfill our tee time at Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club, about 30 miles from Celtic Manor.

When visiting the U.K., golf is better on a links, and staying confined to parkland courses can be a cruel tease. Finally, it was time to get into the dry, sandy dunes.

In the weeks before the Ryder Cup, Pyle and Kenfig welcomed visitors from as far as South Africa and Asia. On Monday, the club appeared back to normal, mostly full of members coming for a quick round or lunch and to watch the matches culminate.

We were assured the golf course was dry and playable -- and far more appealing than a trudge through muddy Celtic Manor and the inevitable American blood bath.

With not a breath of wind, sun in the sky and armed with the assumption the U.S. team would fold early in Newport, we took to the links as the Ryder Cup matches began. We played the front nine, believing the Euros would strike early. But when we checked in at the turn for an update, to our surprise, the United States had a fleeting chance, as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson delivered, and Steve Stricker was sealing up his match versus Lee Westwood.

By the time we reached the 18th hole, we knew it would come down to the Graeme McDowell-Hunter Mahan match, thanks to one of the pros in our group, who checked for updates about every five strides down the fairway.

No seat sat vacant in the main bar, so we found a few spots in the club's spike bar, which had its own high-definition TV. There are three such screens equipped with Sky TV at Pyle and Kenfig, no doubt purchased for this occasion.

When we arrived, most of the members remains confident -- that is, until Ricky Fowler wouldn't go down.

On the 18th, Fowler's putt found the back of the hole, again. Teammates swarmed, and his girlfriend jumped on him at the green. They embraced. She gave him a kiss.

"What's she see in him?" one member muttered.

McDowell's clutch birdie on 16th allowed locals to rest a little easier. And once Mahan botched his tee shot, celebration was imminent.

Mahan conceded to McDowell, and the club patrons applauded, hooted and hollered. There were no Welshmen on the European team. But the country backed it full bore, and the golf clubs on the south coast welcomed visitors from all over with open arms.

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Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

 
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