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Muirfield leaves it late to join race for Ryder
Mike Aitken, The Scotsman, 10 October 2000
Muirfield, the club which hosted the Ryder Cup on the one
previous occasion when the match with the Americans was held in Scotland in
1973, has thrown its hat into the ring again to stage the 2009 contest.
With St Andrews, Turnberry, Carnoustie, Loch Lomond and
Gleneagles already on board as official contenders to provide the venue, the
Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers declared their candidacy last week in a
bid document which also drew the support of various tourism and enterprise
agencies in the Lothians.
All bids for the 2009 match have to be lodged with the
Ryder Cup committee by the end of this month and Muirfleld declared its
interest at the 11th hour. The involvement of arguably the most testing and
beautiful links course in world golf adds another sprinkling of glitter to a
Scottish bid which is second to none in terms of quality courses.
Wales, the North-east of England and Sweden are also
involved in the quest to host the Ryder Cup nine years from now. The Welsh bid
is seen by many as the most serious rival to Scotland, with Celtic Manor backed
by huge financial resources.
If money is no object in the valleys - the Welsh impressed
officials with the manner in which they staged the recent PGA Cup match - the
Scottish bid is also understood to be commercially sound.
A press conference at St Andrews on Thursday during the
Alfred Dunhill Cup is expected to deliver details about a strategy for
developing the game in Scotland.
With European Tour events scheduled for Loch Lomond,
Gleneagles and St Andrews next season, Scotlands Ryder Cup bid looks to
be gathering momentum. All concerned in this neck of the woods, mind you,
appreciate theyve not reached the winners enclosure yet.
As far as Muirfields interest is concerned, perhaps
the one major stumbling block to holding the Ryder Cup at the East Lothian
course is the clubs membership policy.
Only men are allowed to join the worlds oldest golf
club. That antiquated view of women golfers, one would guess, is unlikely to
sit well with a government-backed initiative.
On the other hand, no Scottish club has more to offer in
the way of tradition than Muirfield The Honourable Company first played golf on
Leith Links in 1744. and have been running championships ever since.
Muirfield has welcomed the world to 14 Opens but a
reputation for lofty isolationism was fostered by a former secretary, Paddy
Hanmer. The former navy captain was known to be icy in the company of
When four Americans, who had booked a year in advance,
turned up on a day when wind and driving rain sent the seagulls in search of
shelter, Hanmer barked: Start at the tenth - we dont want you
getting in the way of the members.
A decision on the host country for 2009 is expected to be
announced in the New Year, with the successful course due to be named during
the 2001 Ryder Cup match at the Belfry.
Sandy Jones, the chief executive of the PGA and an observer
at the Solheim Cup over the weekend, indicated that the calibre of all the bids
Celtic Manor did a very good job of putting on the
PGA Cup and what we can say about them is that theyve met every challenge
which has been put in front of them so far, he said.
Weve also been very impressed with the bid from
the North-east of England and the enthusiasm and seriousness of the Swedish bid
All the interested parties, including Scotland, are showing both innovation and
commitment to the game.
After what happened at Brookline, there was a feeling
that the Ryder Cup was bad for golf. We want to change that perception. Our aim
is to persuade people that the Ryder Cup can be very good for the game.
Thats why the decision on who gets the match in
2009 has to be viewed as a catalyst for growth - a chance to focus on golf and
an opportunity to develop the game. more
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