Wales in talks to host The Open

Golf’s Open Championship and cycling’s Tour de France are the next major sporting events Wales is hoping to attract.

The Welsh Government has held initial talks with organisers about hosting the two events after Cardiff held the 2017 Champions League final on Saturday.

Wales has staged golf’s Ryder Cup, the Rugby World Cup, Ashes cricket Tests and a 2012 Olympics opening event.

Economy Minister Ken Skates confirmed the government was in negotiations.

“I think there is great potential to host new major events that have not yet been to Wales,” he said.

“We have had productive conversations with the organisations behind these events.”

Cardiff will host the England v New Zealand ICC Champions Trophy cricket match on Tuesday while it is also a host city for the 2019 cricket World Cup.

But the Welsh Government’s major events team are also talking to organisers of The Open and Tour de France, two of sport’s biggest events.

‘It is our time’

The Royal and Ancient (R&A) – the organisers of The Open, one of golf’s four major annual tournaments – has staged championships in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland but none of its 145 events in Wales.

The Royal Porthcawl course in Bridgend county is where Wales wants The R&A to consider adding to their roster of host venues alongside courses such as St Andrews and Muirfield.

“There are opportunities to host more golfing events and I’m keen to discuss with the R&A the potential of Wales to host the British Open,” said Mr Skates.

“I think it is right that if we call it a British Open that it should be hosted in Wales and I’m to keen to make sure that discussions take place with the R&A on that.

“I’ll be meeting with The R&A again this summer to discuss how we take forward the potential of a British Open being staged in Wales. I think it is our time,” he said.

Although the course has been suggested as a potential Open venue, Royal Porthcawl – which attracted 43,000 spectators to the 2014 Seniors Open – would need extensive development to host an event of the magnitude of The Open, which packed in about 175,000 fans at Royal Troon in Ayrshire last year.

The R&A has previously said that said it had “no intention” of hosting the competition in Wales, which until 2014 hosted an annual Wales Open tournament at Celtic Manor in Newport.

The Open venues are confirmed until 2020.

Wales’ cycling reputation has been enhanced since Nicole Cooke won road race gold at the 2008 Olympic Games and with double Olympic champion Geraint Thomas playing a leading role within Team Sky.

“Cycling events such as the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France are hugely popular and we have proved we can host major cycling events in Wales, I would like to attract more,” Mr Skates added.

Wales has hosted stages in the last seven Tour of Britain cycling races – including the start of the 2015 edition – and will hold the final stage this year.

The three-week Tour de France started in Yorkshire in 2014 and the Welsh Government’s major events team is in discussions for it to come to Wales.

“We have been speaking to the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France and that would be really exciting,” said Mr Skates.

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Jason Dufner wins Memorial Tournament in Ohio

Jason Dufner (left) and Jack Nicklaus

Memorial Tournament final leaderboard
-13 J Dufner (US); -10 R Fowler (US), A Lahiri (Ind); -9 M Kuchar (US), J Thomas (US); -8 J Hahn (US), K Kisner (US), K Stanley (US), B Watson (US)
Selected others: -6 J Spieth (US); -5 J Day (Aus), S Lowry (Ire); -3 R Fisher (Eng); -1 P Harrington (Ire)

American Jason Dufner won a fifth PGA Tour title by claiming victory in the Memorial tournament in Ohio.

The 40-year-old bounced back from a third-round 77 to card a 68 on a final day – during which there was a weather delay – as he finished on 13 under.

Fellow countryman Rickie Fowler shot 70 and was tied in second on 10 under with India’s Anirban Lahiri, who posted 65.

Daniel Summerhays had taken a three-shot lead into the final round but a round of 78 let him on seven under.

The 33-year-old was aiming to win his first PGA Tour title but shot a round which included four bogeys and a double bogey.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry was tied on 15th on five under, while England’s Ross Fisher was joint 22nd on three under.

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Rory McIlroy to return from rib injury at US Open

Rory McIlroy

World number two Rory McIlroy says he has recovered from a rib injury and will for the US Open.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman was treated for a stress fracture to the ribs earlier in the year and pulled out of May’s PGA Championship at Wentworth.

He also missed this weekend’s Memorial Tournament, the final warm-up event for the US Open, which begins on 15 June.

“I am ready for Erin Hills and looking forward to playing there for the first time,” said McIlroy.

The injury, which McIlroy suffered in the close season, flared up as he lost a play-off to Graeme Storm at the South African Open in January.

The four-time major winner did not play again until the WGC-Mexico Championship in March.

McIlroy felt discomfort at the Players Championship at Sawgrass last month and was “advised to take a conservative approach” to his recovery.

“The last few weeks have obviously been frustrating,” he told the Guardian.