Turkey will bid to host Ryder Cup
The onward march of Turkish golf continues with a declaration to bid for the 2022 Ryder Cup. The Turkish Golf Federation's commitment to the game was evident in the $2.5m (£1.55m) it distributed between the finalists in the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final yesterday. Next year the Turkish Open will debut on the European Tour with a prize fund of $7m (£4.35m). The tournament takes a plum slot in the calendar as the penultimate event in the Race to Dubai, making it a must stop for the global elite chasing the top prize in the European money list.
This week's one-off, limited field, medal matchplay event has drawn criticism from some quarters, dismissed as a junket to line the pockets of already fantastically rich golfers. The Turkish Federation sees it as a lightbulb moment, switching on a nation to the charms and the commercial value of the game.
The symbolic importance of having eight of the best golfers on the planet in Antalya for one week has gone way beyond the bank balance of the players. The grass-roots engagement, with the exposure of the game to kids from the remote east, has been impressive. The desire to promote an aggressive grass-roots policy has been evident throughout, a card which will be played to maximum effect when the bid process for 2022 begins after Gleneagles in three years' time.
State backing for the host country is seen as central to the prospects of any bid, and Turkey offers oodles of that. The head of the Turkish Golf Federation, Ahmet Agaoglu (above), believes Turkey is the place to be in 2022. "What is happening now with golf in Turkey is beyond my imagination," he said. "Outside of the United Kingdom there are only two or three countries that can reasonably put a bid together for something like this. This is my view anyway. So, yes, it is our aim to bring the Ryder Cup here.
"Can you imagine what that would mean for golf in this region? There is no guarantee that we will get it but we will present a fantastic bid. We have good enough time to prepare."
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