Spanish bid “never mentioned Seve”

The head of the failed Spanish Ryder Cup bid has criticised rivals for bringing Seve Ballesteros into the campaign.

The head of the failed Spanish Ryder Cup bid has criticised rivals for bringing Seve Ballesteros into the campaign.

After his death from cancer earlier this month, there had been calls from Seve’s family to award the cup to Spain in honour of the great man, who was the patron of Madrid’s bid to host the event in 2018.

But French golfer Thomas Levet, who was part of the victorious French delegation, mentioned on Saturday that it would be wrong to award the Cup to Spain solely on the basis of Ballesteros’ death.

Subsequently, Gonzaga Escauriaza, president of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, expressed disappointment that Ballasteros became part of the debate.

“I saw some comments from some of the bids that they shouldn’t give it to Spain because of Severiano,” he said.

“I don’t think that was fair because there wasn’t a single press release from me mixing anything Ryder Cup with Severiano.

“We could have done it because he was a huge supporter of the Ryder Cup but we didn’t because we didn’t want to put that pressure on the committee.

“We thought it was not fair. But it’s not fair either to hear other people talking about it.

“The only regret I have is that some people from other nations said it shouldn’t have been given to Spain.

“The committee had a difficult choice and they didn’t deserve to have pressure on them. That was a terrible thing to happen.”

European Tour chief executive George O’Grady insisted, however, that the evaluation committee had not allowed emotion to influence their decision, and that France was selected purely because of the their proposed venue, Le National Golf, and a strong legacy programme that plans to build 100 urban golf courses.

“We have evaluated the whole bid on its merits, we have evaluated the golfing site on its merits,” said O’Grady.

“We’re well aware of the Seve factor but we’d been aware of that since the start.

“It didn’t make the slightest bit of difference to us. We didn’t feel any undue pressure on us. It was water off a duck’s back.”

Escauriaza did offer congratulations to France, and added that he was not yet sure whether Spain would bid for the 2022 event.

“We thought we had an excellent bid. France presented a fantastic bid. We have to congratulate the French,” he said.

“If they need any help we are ready to help them in any way.”