France will host 2018 Ryder Cup
France have been selected as hosts of the 2018 Ryder Cup, it was announced today.
The 42nd edition of the biennial match will be staged at Le Golf National in Versailles, just outside Paris, which has been the venue for 18 of the last 20 French Open tournaments.
The Ryder Cup has been played on the contintent just once before, at Valderrama in Spain in 1997 when Seve Ballesteros captained Europe to victory.
There had been calls from the Ballesteros family to award the event to Spain in honour of the five-time major winner, who was patron of the Madrid bid and died earlier this month.
But the European Tour resisted the emotional pull and selected France ahead of Spain, Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands.
The decision did not only hinge on the venue, with the tournament's popularity meaning the Ryder Cup is now big business.
Each bidding nation has had to give financial commitments and outline plans for a lasting legacy of the match. The French bid had government backing, with president Nicolas Sarkozy deeming it to be a priority.
France have already secured hosting rights for the 2016 European football championships and they are bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Chicago, Illinois will host the 39th Ryder Cup next year as America try to regain the trophy after losing at Celtic Manor in October of last year. Gleneagles has already been selected as Europe's next host in 2014.
European Tour chief executive George O'Grady insisted the decision to hand France the hosting rights ahead of Spain was not a missed opportunity to pay tribute to Ballesteros.
"I don't think it's a missed opportunity at all in the sense that we've been well aware of the legacy of Severiano Ballesteros throughout this bidding process," he said.
"Everything we do as the European Tour is to honour 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 that the French bid was outstanding on the guidelines we laid down.
"We have an announcement about Seve coming in the next few months which will seek to do that [honour Ballesteros].
"We feel for him. We feel for what he stood for but we've been aware of that , aware of his terrible illness for quite some time."
O'Grady moved to appease the four beaten candidates by promising they would continue to reap the benefits of their bids.
"In every one of the bids that have come through, each country has received benefits in the process," he said.
"We are in discussions. I think our team are going to visit all the countries. I don't think anybody has actually lost here. One has specifically won.
"We have put the attributes of those countries on the map. We'll bring other golfing benefits to them and generally will work with them."
French Ryder Cup committee president Pascal Grizot was thrilled that his country's bid had been successful.
"The decision of the Ryder Cup committee to select France to host the 2018 Ryder Cup is a real honour for our country, for the French gold federation and for all private and public partners who have supported our bid.
"Above all it is a huge accolade for all the French golfers who have as one contributed to this project. We are particularly proud of this collective support we have had on this journey."
On Ballesteros, he added: "We all remember Severiano Ballesteros as an icon in our sport and someone who epitomised the spirit of the Ryder Cup. He is in our thoughts today."
European Ryder Cup director Richard Hills was full of praise for the French bid.
"The winning bid from France stands out for a number of reasons," he said. "The venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup, Le Golf National, is a truly outstanding golf course, providing excellent spectator viewing and the promise of spectacular climaxes to the matches. Transportation, logistical and infrastructure plans are also of the highest quality."
He added: "There is no doubt that the 2018 Ryder Cup will be a memorable and dramatic and which tens of thousands of golf fans will be able to enjoy."
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