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2009 Ryder Cup - Welsh Bidding process
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Gleneagles will be venue for 2009 Ryder Cup

Ian Broadley, The Herald, 7 November 2000

Scotland is set to celebrate in the New Year by being awarded the 2009 Ryder Cup with Gleneagles the venue for the biennial contest against the USA.

While the Ryder Cup committee will not announce the successful host nation until January, a source confirmed that the bid to bring the series back to the home of golf has been more impressive than those from England and Wales.

Just two weeks ago, a £30m drive to secure the Ryder Cup was launched by the Scottish Executive. Approximately £14m had already been pledged to develop facilities and create new courses.

However, a further £10m was promised if the bid succeeded with the Royal Bank of Scotland kicking in £6m because of the economic benefits to be gained by the country.

Colin Montgomerie was also willingly recruited as unofficial golfing ambassador and Europe's No. 1 has been active in promoting the Scottish campaign.

It is the PGA who will allocate the highly prestigious event and it will be a triumph for all concerned if it returns to the birthplace of the game of golf for only the second time in its history.

However, it will be a major disappointment for England and Wales to be passed over, not to mention St Andrews, Carnoustie, Loch Lomond and Muirfield, which was not included in the Scottish Executive list because of its membership policy.

Each of these grand courses has its own appeal, but my information is that it is Celtic Manor, the £100m resort built by Welsh tycoon Terry Matthews, which was regarded as the strongest challenger to Gleneagles. But the luxury Perthshire resort has forged strong links with the PGA through staging the Scottish Professional Golf Championship for the past two years.

Being centrally located, served by roadways and rail, it is readily accessible and has proved capable of accommodating the huge crowds which this event will attract.

The Monarch's Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus a decade ago, is sited on a natural amphi-theatre of 250 acres, one of the largest land masses in Europe.

Equally, the Scottish Executive's commitment to developing the game through inner city programmes, introducing every child just born to the game by the age of nine and placing sports instructors in every school within three years bettered any pledges contained in rival bids.

The Ryder Cup is one of the greatest events in global sport and generates enormous profits. It is estimated that the 2009 contest will boost the local economy by at least an additional £67m.

While there is not the slightest suggestion of impropriety, Europe's players are now demanding to know precisely where those profits are being spent.

An initial request to the European Tour was informed that the books could only be opened if playing members agreed. A poll was then taken of all competitors at the final day of the Volvo Masters and 59 players signed forms calling for their executive director, Ken Schofield, to reveal the tour's finances. Only one player, reputedly Montgomerie, refused to add his name to the list.

Now a heavyweight delegation of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal, all major champions and each highly influential, has been appointed to oversee the audit.

Similar action was taken in the United States last year where the Ryder Cup at Brookline benefited Boston by $120m. Tiger Woods, David Duval, Mark O'Meara and Phil Mickelson were among an elite group which threatened to boycott the event unless paid appearance money.

The PGA of America acceded to their demands and disclosed their financial dealings to avert a damaging confrontation. Player-power won and now those in charge at Wentworth, Surrey, are likely to find their decisions and policies challenged more frequently by members seeking a greater say.

There is a belief the European Tour is biased towards Britain and the needs of the continental players come second best. This feeling was manifested when Mark James was appointed assistant to Sam Torrance. Frenchman Jean van de Velde claimed the post should have gone to a continental, who would have been able to relate better to the foreigners in the team.

His appeal was ignored but James was forced to resign because of the fall-out from his controversial book 'Into the Bearpit' on the last Ryder Cup, but the protest over his position was indicative of the prevailing mood.

Coltard adds extra weight to game plan

Extract, Mike Aitken, The Scotsman, 7 November 2000

.....Talk of the Ryder Cup leads to Scotland’s bid for the match in 2009. As a patriot, Coltart is optimistic the match will return north of the Border for the first time since 1973.

That said, he believes the powers that be need to work harder at marketing Scotland as the world’s No 1 golf destination.

"We need to attract more people to visit Scotland at a time when tourism is flagging," he agreed. "So the Ryder Cup would help in that respect. But I feel as if more still needs to be done to promote Scotland through golf.

"As a country, we’re known as the home of golf. Yet when I play in tournaments abroad, I never see any signs or boards on the courses publicising Scotland. What I do see are lots of signs advertising golf in Ireland. I don’t understand why, when there are millions of golfers around the world, the Scottish Tourist Board didn’t do more to grab their attention."

Coltart was intrigued by the Scottish Executive’s commitment to give every child aged under nine the opportunity to play the game. He wonders how that promise would work in practice and which clubs were going to accommodate all these youngsters.

"I hope that when the politicians say those things that they know what they’re talking about," he said. "A lot of courses won’t let kids play at all. It’s important that youngsters do go to clubs where there is a strong junior section and they can be taught the etiquette of the game.

"When I was a boy, I played as often as I could. Whenever I was holding up an adult member on the course, then I stepped aside. I remember how before championships at the club I would rake the bunkers and repair divots. I’m not saying young people should be told to do odd jobs, but they can be asked.

"Juniors are made welcome when they behave in the right way. These days, though, there’s a view that youngsters are entitled to play irrespective of anyone else. That’s when some clubs put up barriers and don’t let them on."

Whatever concerns he may have with the detail of Scotland’s bid, Coltart reckons the chance to play in a Ryder Cup on home turf would be as good as it gets.

There might even be a chance to settle an old score with Tiger. "How would you top that?" he beamed. "As long as you finished on the winning side, of course!"

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