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2009 Ryder Cup - Scottish, English and Welsh bids
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Investment adds much weight to the case for Scotland

Mike Aitken, The Scotsman, 7 February 2001

Like a jockey applying the whip in the home straight, Scotland will hope to gain an advantage over their rivals in the race for the 2009 Ryder Cup with an announcement today about substantial investment in a programme of professional golf events.

While Wales have already made their play with a series of initiatives on the European Seniors Tour and the Ladies’ European Tour, Scotland will reveal their hand less than a week before a critical meeting of the Ryder Cup committee.

News about the Wales Seniors Open at Royal St David’s, which carries a £500,000 prize fund, was issued last month, while details about the £400,000 WPGA Championship of Europe at Royal Porthcawl came out in December.

The Welsh are thought to have timed their announcements in the belief that a final decision on the winning country for 2009 - the north-east of England are the other bidders - would be made next week.

In fact, the two-day meeting won’t be able to reach a definitive judgement simply because the six-man committee of Phil Weaver, David Huish, Jim Christine, Neil Coles, Angel Gallardo and John O’Leary have so many different assessments to make.

It is thought the Ryder Cup committee’s next meeting will take place in May when the successful country is more likely to be identified. The winning course won’t be named until this year’s match at the Belfry in September.

Recent events caused one Welsh campaign insider to complain in an English newspaper this week that the Scots appear suspiciously well informed about what was happening with the bid process and that any delays were designed to let Scotland play catch-up.

Conspiracy theories have been aired before and the Welsh do worry over the fact that not only are Ken Schofield, executive director of the European Tour, and Sandy Jones, the chief executive of the PGA, Scottish, but so are two members of the committee - Huish and Christine.

However, Tony Lewis, the Welsh chairman, insists he believes in the fairness of the bidding. "Behind every door in golf and at the end of every telephone is a Scotsman," said Lewis. "But I do believe there’s a level playing field. If the PGA give the match to us then they will be able to reflect on how they brought a new dimension to European golf."

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