Levet on the French bid

During the rain delays at Celtic Manor, Matt Cooper interviewed Thomas Levet about the French bid for 2018. Here’s the result:

When the Ryder Cup is next played in continental Europe in 2018 if will have been 39 years since Europeans first competed in the event in 1979.

In that time it has been transformed from an embarrassing mismatch into a multi-billion pound competition that attracts the rapt attention of the world.

Make no mistake about it; continental European golfers saved the Ryder Cup and yet for all the efforts of Ballesteros, Olazabal, Garcia, Langer, Rocca, Bjorn, Karlsson, Levet and many, many other golfers, the event has been played on continental soil only once in those 39 years.

That is a travesty which makes the decision to guarantee the event to Europe in 2018 a good one – the only remaining question being which of the bidding countries and cities should host the event.

During the rain delay on day one at the 2010 Ryder Cup Thomas Levet popped into the media centre to talk to Golf365 and SkySports.com about the French bid.

Golf365: Salut Thomas, the French bid centres on Golf National in Paris – is the quality of that course, one well known to the Tour, key to the whole strategy?

Thomas Levet: Well, it is definitely the case that Golf National is a superb venue. It has great quality for the players but also the capacity for lots and lots of spectators. You know it can currently cater for 70,000 fans but it will manage 120,000 if needed. That is immense. Not only that but it is already a proven stadium course with excellent vantage points; we know it can cope.

Golf365: And the players love it too – Golf365 columnist Chris Wood told us he supports the bid because the closing holes are made for the matchplay conditions of a Ryder Cup.

Thomas Levet: Of course – there is danger everywhere on the back nine, so much water! There would be much drama without doubt. But it is also in superb condition and it is already there – we know exactly what the course is like. But don’t overlook other factors – this is not just a bid built around the excellent course. It has many other virtues.

Golf365: Okay, what else makes Paris standout?

Thomas Levet: The city of Paris itself! Versailles! The Eiffel Tower! We have a city full of so much that is unique. It is one of the world’s great cities. And there is something else: the city is used to coping with big numbers of tourists so in a very, very short distance from the course we have massive amounts of hotel rooms. People could stay very close to both the city and the golf course – that’s a big advantage for fans and transporting them around.

Golf365: Money has to be a big consideration, is the bid strong financially?

Thomas Levet: The French government has offered it’s unconditional support of the bid, but in addition golfers all over France have united behind the idea. Every member of the French Golf Federation have agreed to an annual three Euro levy which will guarantee one million Euro per year. Our bid can totally guarantee that. In this climate that is so important. We also have good commercial sponsors.

Golf365: We witnessed the extraordinary passion and excitement of the first tee here at Celtic Manor – could the French replicate that?

Thomas Levet: Of course! We could maybe add more! You must remember that the Ryder Cup is an international event now and all of Europe is proud of the it. And remember too that the British love to travel. I played in the 2004 Ryder Cup in America and we had plenty of British and Irish fans there making a lot of noise – it would be the same in Paris.

Golf365: So French flair would embellish the Ryder Cup?

Thomas Levet: We call it l’art de vivre a la francaise which means bringing French hospitality, flair and creativity to the matches. We would use the dramatic back drop of Paris – the Eiffel Tower, the Chateau de Versailles; the Ryder Cup would go beyond Golf National.

Golf365: The event would surely be key to the progression of French professional golfers too? Currently you have lots of European Tour winners but no major winners.

Thomas Levet: This is true. On every tour we have great depth – on the European Tour, the Challenge Tour and the Ladies European Tour. Lots of them are winners but we need to step up a level; to compete and win majors. And the investment and excitement in the sport would be superb. You know, I was with the Junior Ryder Cup players this morning on the first tee and they had no idea how much emotion there would be. People yell at you! That inspires players to perform beyond their ability. French players will want to be part of that; they’ll be hungry so it will help our golfers.

Golf365: Talking of young French players, you have two very promising amateurs. Could they be stars of 2018?

Thomas Levet: Well, who knows? Romain Wattel and Victor Dubuisson are both very good, but very young players with much ahead of them. Romain won on the Challenge Tour this year whilst still an amateur; he is technically excellent. Victor, on the other hand, is more mentally strong. They are good players.

Golf365: Merci beaucoup, Thomas, et bon chance.

Thomas Levet: Merci beaucoup.

  • For more information on the French Ryder Cup 2018 go to the official website.

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