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France to Host 2018 Ryder Cup
France has been selected to host its first-ever Ryder Cup. The biennial competition will be held in 2018 at Le Golf National on the outskirts of Versailles near Paris, marking the first time in 21 years that the Ryder Cup will be held on the European continent.
Spain was the first European country - outside of Britain and Ireland - to host the event, at Valderrama in 1997, where the late Seve Ballesteros captained Europe to victory. Pascal Grizot, who headed the French bid, called his country's selection a "real honor."
France outbid Spain, Germany, Portugal and Holland to stage the 42nd edition of the men's competition. George O'Grady, chief executive of the European Tour - the managing partner of Ryder Cup Europe - made the announcement at Wentworth Club, a venue near London that in 1926 staged an international match recognized as the forerunner to the Ryder Cup.
Le Golf National will follow Medinah (Ill.) Country Club in 2012; Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2014; and Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., in 2016, as host of the contest.
In attendance at the announcement were delegates from the five bidding nations, the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland, the PGAs of Europe, high-ranking officials from golf and the media. A sixth country, Sweden, dropped out of the bidding in spring 2010.
There were no French players on last year's victorious Ryder Cup team, and the country currently has no golfers ranked among the world's top-50 men. "I truly believe that the success of the French bid is a success for all of continental Europe," Grizot said at a press conference. "We fully intend for the Ryder Cup France to be a celebration of continental European golf."
The French and Dutch bids were the only ones to that were to hold the Ryder Cup on existing courses, while the other three bids were based on facilities yet to be built. In June, Le Golf National, a "stadium" course, will host the French Open for the 10th consecutive year and the 19th time since it started in 1991.
The family of Ballesteros, who succumbed to brain cancer on May 7 at age 54, made a late push for Spain. If the country would have received the nod, the matches would have been held in Madrid at a site to be determined. In addition to captaining the European Ryder Cup team in 1997, Ballesteros played in eight Ryder Cups- winning three. Last year he spoke by phone with the Euros as they prepared for their successful attempt to retain the trophy.
"We have been aware of the legacy of Severiano Ballesteros right from the beginning of this bidding process," O'Grady said. "Everything we do as the European Tour is to honor him. I don't think this is the last Ryder Cup that will be played in most of our lifetimes. It's just at the moment the French bid was outstanding on the guidelines we laid down."
Richard Hills, Europe's Ryder Cup director, led a four-member Bid Committee that consisted of 2018 Bid Director David MacLaren, Ryder Cup Match Director Edward Kitson and Financial Director Jonathan Orr. The group conducted a series of site inspections in the five countries that had confirmed their desires to stage the Ryder Cup in seven years.
The Bid Committee was assisted in its evaluation by three advisers: Michael Payne, Jaime Byrom and Nick Bitel, who brought considerable experience from their sports' backgrounds, namely the Olympic Movement, FIFA and the London Marathon, respectively.
In making the announcement, Hills said: "We would like to congratulate France on becoming the host for the 2018 Ryder Cup, but more importantly, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all the representatives of France, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Spain, who responded so diligently to Ryder Cup Europe's bidding criteria and conducted themselves in a thoroughly professional manner throughout the most detailed evaluation process as we have ever embarked upon.
"At the outset, we gave the process the code name 'Operational Level Playing Field' and identified three key individuals in Michael Payne, Jaime Byrom and Nick Bitel, each of whom is highly respected in the business and sporting worlds. They brought their own unique brand of expertise to the table and we thank them for helping the Bid Committee identify the correct nation to host this prestigious match."
Hills added: "We have one worthy gold medalist in France, who gave us the confidence to believe that they will stage a truly memorable Ryder Cup in seven years' time. However, there are four impressive silver medalists involved in this extremely detailed process in Germany, Holland, Portugal and Spain, any of whom were also well-positioned to host the 2018 event.
"France, as the successful nation, will now be entering into a multifaceted relationship with Ryder Cup Europe, lasting a minimum of 12 years and benefiting many aspects of golf at all levels. All of us at Ryder Cup Europe look forward to working closely with the French Ryder Cup 2018 team in the coming years."
"In 1979, the Ryder Cup experienced a renaissance by the inclusion of Continental Europe," said Allen Wronowski, president of the PGA of America. "We share today in another milestone as the 42nd Ryder Cup, contested in 2018, visits France, expanding golf's most compelling event to an exciting new venue and across a new border. We celebrate with the citizens of France, as they begin their journey to add to the rich history of the Ryder Cup."
France has hosted 118 European Tour, 60 European Challenge Tour and 12 European Senior Tour events. Ten French golfers have won 24 tournaments on the European Tour and 36 players have gained 51 wins on the European Challenge Tour. Thomas Levet and Jean Van de Velde represented Europe in the Ryder Cup in 2004 and 1999, respectively.
Portions of the above report are courtesy of the PGA of America. For further details, visit www.pga.com.