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2009 Ryder Cup - Welsh bid - promise 'to sweep away sexism and elitism'
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Ryder-chasing Wales to 'sweep away sexism'

Andy Farrell, The Independent, 10 January 2001

Having secured the FA Cup final for Cardiff's Millennium stadium for the next three years, Wales yesterday stepped up their campaign to stage the Ryder Cup in the Principality for the first time in 2009. First Minister Rhodri Morgan attended a press conference at Rhondda GC which promised to "sweep away sexism and élitism" from Welsh golf.

An announcement of the host country for the 2009 match is expected within the month. When the bids were lodged with the Professional Golfers' Association in October, Scotland were the clear favourites with a host of top-class venues, including Gleneagles, Turnberry and St Andrews, ready to stage the match. A north-east of England bid is centred on Slaley Hall.

While the Wentworth Hills course at Celtic Manor is not to everyone's taste, the bidding criteria called for the successful country to aid the development of the game and here Wales has already made giant strides.

Under the bid chairmanship of Tony Lewis, all the separate golfing bodies have been brought under the umbrella of the Sports Council for Wales, while the men's and women's unions are set to merge. The game has traditionally been divided along sexist lines in Britain and when the two unions in Scotland tried to share office space, legal action followed over disputed costs.

"The bid goes far beyond a single tournament, huge though the Ryder Cup is," Lewis said. "The aim is to transform the golfing landscape in Wales, create new facilities and opportunities and sweep away sexism and élitism completely."

Andrew Morgan, chairman of the WGU development committee, explained: "Wales would like to abolish existing divisions, restrictions and preconceptions surrounding the game of golf. We want the game to be truly and equally accessible to everyone, be they girls, boys, women or men."

As well as providing coaching in schools and more facilities such as pay-and-play courses and driving ranges, Morgan hopes to get existing clubs to be "more inclusive to young players and women".

The Sport for Wales chairman, Gareth Davies, announced a programme to support five young professionals: Becky Morgan, Stephen Dodd, Jamie Donaldson, Gary Houston and Mark Pilkington. "These players are élite in talent, not privilege," Davies said.

"They come from a wide range of backgrounds, and have graduated from our Elite Cymru scheme. The Sports Council for Wales believes that golf should be non-sexist and non-élitist and the new development plan, together with staging the Ryder Cup, will allow us to dispel that image."

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