France beats favourites Spain to host 2018 Ryder Cup
France has been named as the host country for the Ryder Cup in 2018, beating off favourites Spain.
Le Golf National course, near Paris, was chosen ahead of other bids from Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands.
It will be the first time France has hosted the biennial Europe versus United States match and only the second time to be played on mainland Europe.
The first was in 1997, when the late Seve Ballesteros captained Europe to a narrow victory at Valderrama in Spain.
There had been calls 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 after a long battle with cancer.
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“Most exciting for golf fans on both sides of the Atlantic is the quality of the course - a stadium layout reportedly capable of holding 70,000 fans a day”
But the European Tour resisted the emotional pull to select a venue which has hosted 18 of the last 20 French Open tournaments for the 42nd edition of the Ryder Cup, which continues to grow in popularity.
"France's bid was exceptional. They have a first-class tournament venue already built," said European Tour chief executive George O'Grady.
"In these tough economic times we can see where we are going. We are leaving nothing to chance on building a new course.
"The plans for the new courses in Portugal and Spain are absolutely superb.
"Seven and a half years sounds a long time but developing new areas with all the hotels, offices and roads is a big ask in that time. That is why I think their time will come.
RYDER CUP VENUES
- 2012 - Medinah, Illinois
- 2014 - Gleneagles, Scotland
- 2016 - Hazeltine, Minnesota
- 2018 - Le National, Versailles
- 2020 - Whistling Straits, Wisconsin
"You could say, in that sense, we have gone for the certainty."
To fund the French bid, every registered golfer in the country has donated one euro to the cause, while organisers hope that landing the tournament will boost the development of golf in France, who has promised to build more than 100 urban golf courses.
The French bid says it wants the number of registered players to increase from 400,000 to 700,000 by 2022, and it is also aiming to have three native players in Europe's Ryder Cup team by 2022.
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.
"There's no doubt that the 2018 Ryder Cup will be memorable and dramatic, and which thousands of golf fans will be able to enjoy."
French Ryder Cup committee president Pascal Grizot was thrilled that his country's bid had been successful.
"It is a real honour for our country, for the French gold federation and for all private and public partners who have supported our bid," he said.
"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."
French golfer Jean van der Velde
“Our course is phenomenal. It was built with the vision that it could one day host the Ryder Cup, as that is now a reality”
French professional Jean van der Velde, who was part of the country's bid team, told BBC Radio 5 live that the course would provide a real spectacle.
"Our course is phenomenal," he said. "It was built with the vision that it could one day host the Ryder Cup, as that is now a reality.
"It has a very linksy feel, but at the same time it is a little like a course in the United States, where you have to hit it over water a lot. It's definitely a course where you need a lot of shots in your bag.
"Over the last four holes you can have 100,000 watching. It will provide a great finish for great drama."
On Twitter , Rory McIlroy said: "France 2018... Hopefully that will be my 5th Ryder Cup! I'll be nearly 30.... Oh dear, let's not think about that!!"
World number three Martin Kaymer was disappointed that his native Germany out, but had no doubts about the merits of the victorious proposal.
"The French bid had a lot of support from the French government - and I think the most important thing is that they have a fantastic golf course," he said.
Germany was proposing it be held at Wittelsbacher Golf Club, an hour north of Munich; Portugal offered the new Comporta Dunes project, south of Lisbon on the Alentejo coast; and the Netherlands put forward The Dutch, 45 minutes from Amsterdam and Rotterdam.