Ryder Cup stars may not see Celtic Manor

Colin Montgomerie will captain the European team at the Ryder Cup in Wales.

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Colin Montgomerie is likely to be one disappointed European Ryder Cup captain this June. If he thinks every potential member of his team will play in the Celtic Manor Wales Open to get a sneak preview of this year’s Ryder Cup venue, then he’s in for a rude awakening.

Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia are unlikely to set foot on Celtic Manor before the Ryder Cup. All three are likely to miss the Celtic Manor Wales Open.

Poulter and Casey say scheduling difficulties make it almost certain they will skip the Wales Open June 3-6, while Garcia restricts his U.K. appearances because of stringent British tax laws.

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Sergio Garcia at the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club.

The two Englishmen will play the BMW PGA Championship May 20-23, the European Tour’s flagship event, then they will head to the States to play in the PGA Tour’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Their problem is that the Wales Open is the week after Colonial. The prospect of criss-crossing the Atlantic four times in three weeks isn’t appealing.

“It’s tough because I want to play (the Wales Open), but I love Colonial,” Casey said. “It’s a good, old fashioned course that I love. So as much as I’d love to see Celtic Manor, I think if you look at my schedule last year you’ll get an idea of what I’m going to do.”

Casey played Colonial last year but not Celtic Manor. So did Poulter. Poulter has more reason than Casey to choose Colonial over Celtic Manor.

“There is pressure to play at Celtic Manor, but I feel I have a chance of winning Colonial,” Poulter said. “I finished top 10 there last year, and top 15 the year before.”

Garcia’s case is more complex. He resents the U.K. government hitting him with large tax bills the more he plays in the U.K.

According to a recent report in the Sunday Times, “if a sports star plays in two tournaments or races in two marathons a year, and one of those events is in Britain, they could be charged 50 percent tax on half their total annual sponsorship money.”

That’s why Garcia usually only plays in the Open Championship, and no other British tournaments.

“It’s not fair, but what can you do? I have to live with it,” Garcia said.

Luke Donald and Justin Rose are other potential Ryder Cup players who likely will miss the Wales Open. They also played Colonial last year.

Montgomerie wants as many of his potential players to compete at Celtic Manor as possible this year, especially after last season. Miguel Angel Jimenez was the only member of the 2008 team to tee it up in the 2009 Wales Open.

Montgomerie should have no problem getting his home-based players to compete at Celtic Manor, but those Europeans based on the PGA Tour are bound to be no shows.

That won’t please the Scotsman.

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