Madrid launches bid for 2018 Ryder Cup
By PEDRO BOLICHERO
THERE ARE several reasons why Madrid should host the 2018 Ryder Cup – but one virtually unassailable one: the weather.
As Miguel Ángel Jiménez noted during a press conference at the Open de Andalucía in Málaga, “Madrid is the best option for the Ryder Cup, and I’m not just saying that because I’m Spanish. It’s the most southern-most city of all the candidates, and the weather is the key at that time of the year (September).”
Of course, no one was unkind enough to note that the first and to date only time the Ryder Cup was held in Spain – at Valderrama in 1997 (also the first and to date only time it has been held on the Continent) – torrential rain on the eve of the tournament threatened its scheduled start. But it is now history that Valderrama’s exceptional irrigation system meant there were no delays and it became a riveting contest ultimately won by captain Severiano Ballesteros’ determined Europeans 14½ to 13½ against Tom Kite’s Americans.
Jiménez, who was non-playing vice-captain on that occasion and went on to compete in three Ryder Cups (1999, 2004 and 2008), said there were some other excellent candidates for 2018, including Paris, but concluded that Madrid was the best. “They are also building a new course in Tres Cantos (translated as “three edges”, he quipped in an aside to his playing colleagues at the conference table), the best amenities, the gastronomy…” “And the vino!” added a press man from the floor, an observation Jiménez – known for his love of the finer things in life – was only too happy to concur with.
For her part, Gela Alarcó, general manager of Turismo Madrid, said the city’s candidature had various other advantages, including solid institutional support from the Madrid regional government, national ministry of sport, Spanish Olympic Committee, and Royal Spanish and Royal Andalucian Golf Federations – as well as King Juan Carlos, who had agreed to be honorary president of the bid committee. In addition, she said, Spain had an impressive number of top players and hosted the most number of European Tour events – six this year alone (possibly seven if the World Match Play Championship returns to Finca Cortesín – at the moment it is not included on the schedule).
Jorge Sagardoy, general manager of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, said he believed that, together with Madrid, the strongest candidates were France and Germany (the others are Holland, Sweden and Portugal), and also revealed that the European Tour had indicated that the fact the event had been held in Spain before, at Valderrama, would not be an issue in the selection process. “A lot of years have passed since 1997, and we are now in another era.”
The Tres Cantos course is due to be finished in three years; while a decision on the successful candidate is expected to be made in April 2011.
Among those players accompanying Jiménez at the press conference, and lending their support to the bid, were Ignacio Garrido (who competed at Valderrama in 1997, thus joining his father Antonio as a Ryder Cup player); and Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño and Álvaro Quirós, who will both be hoping to make their Cup debuts this year at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales.