Ballesteros row simmers as France win the race to host 2018 Ryder Cup
Wednesday 18 May 2011
There is no such thing as an uncontroversial bidding process. That much became clear in the aftermath of the European Tour's decision to award France the 2018 Ryder Cup, with the Madrid team accusing their rivals of dragging the death of Seve Ballesteros into the campaign.
It was inevitable tensions would boil over as soon as Seve's brother made a plea to the Tour's "sensitivity" to honour the great man with Spain's selection. A debate ensued, featuring the rights and wrongs of such a tribute. The Madrid team say they came off worse.
"I saw some comments from some of the bids that they shouldn't give it to Spain because of Severiano," said Gonzaga Escauriaza, the president of the Spanish golf federation. "I don't think that was fair because there wasn't a single thing from me mixing anything Ryder Cup with Severiano. We could have done it... but we didn't because we didn't want to put that pressure on the committee."
As it was, the Tour moved before the announcement to counter charges of any disrespect towards Ballesteros's memory. Before the lunchtime announcement, the Tour revealed how it is considering changing the official logo to incorporate an image of the five-time major champion. The Independent understands the Tour is in talks with the Ballesteros family, although the finances of image rights and trademarks could prove a sticking point. Any unseemliness must be avoided.
The simmering row slightly marred France's joy on what Thomas Levet called the "greatest day in the history of French golf". George O'Grady, the Tour's chief executive, described the bid as "exceptional" and "leaving nothing to chance". Le Golf National, just outside Paris, is indeed a fine course and the government backing exceeded that of the other bids. The capital's attraction was yet another pull.
"France's bid was exceptional. They have a first-class tournament venue already built," said O'Grady, after naming them ahead of the other four candidates, who with Spain, comprised Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands. "In these tough economic times we can see where we are going. We are leaving nothing to chance... we have gone for the certainty."
Each bidding nation had to give financial commitments and outline plans for a lasting legacy of the match. The France bid contained a pledge to build 100 urban courses and will, in part, be funded by the country's 400,000-strong golf community, who will each pay €3 a year until 2022.
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