SWEDE’S DREAM OF RYDER CUP HONOUR

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In its illustrious 80-year history, the Ryder Cup has been staged just once in continental Europe, but that could be about to change.

In its illustrious 80-year history, the Ryder Cup has been staged just once in continental Europe, but that could be about to change.
‘About’ in this case actually means in 11 years’ time, but the odds are shortening all the time on Sweden following in Spain’s footsteps by staging the biennial contest in 2018.
That is the first date available after Celtic Manor in Wales and Gleneagles in Scotland were confirmed as hosts in 2010 and 2014 respectively, and will give the new course at Bro Hof outside of Stockholm plenty of time to prepare.
The brainchild of Swedish multi-millionaire Bjorn Oras, Bro Hof has been built with tournament golf in mind and will host the Scandinavian Masters in 2009.
The Robert Trent Jones Jnr-designed complex on the shores of picturesque Lake Malaren features a castle for the clubhouse, 36 holes with USGA-specification greens, state-of-the-art drainage and a sub-air system like the one used at Augusta National.
More importantly given the expansion of the Ryder Cup in recent years, a natural amphitheatre around the 17th and 18th holes – known as ‘Victory Valley’ – can accommodate up to 75,000 spectators.
The reviews so far have been glowing. “Finally, a proper golf course in Sweden. Wow!” said European Tour professional Henrik Nystrom.
“I promise to swallow my Ping driver if this course is not ranked as the best in Sweden within three years,” wrote Niclas Luthman in Golf Digest last year.
All very well and good, but realistically what are the chances of Sweden getting the nod ahead of its rivals?
Well if Valderrama (1997) and Celtic Manor (2010) are anything to go by, money talks, and Oras appears to be able to shout just as loud as Jaime Patino and Terry Matthews, who built a new road and virtually an entirely new golf course respectively to secure the Ryder Cup.
“I think it’s very possible,” Jesper Parnevik, who played on the European side in 1997, 1999 and 2002, told PA Sport.
“The Swedes would love to have the Ryder Cup here. We’ve had the Solheim Cup here a few times and a lot of Swedish involvement in the Ryder Cup recently.
“It was not until 1993 that we had our first player with Joakim Haeggman and since then we’ve had two or three players on every team. It would be a natural step I would say to get the Ryder Cup over here.
“There is a big project in Stockholm right now (Bro Hof) that would definitely be able to swallow an event like that. It’s pretty amazing actually. They are building 36 holes and spending a ton of cash. They are pretty much building it for tournaments.
“He (Oras) has a lot of money and he loves golf – he is like JP McManus or Dermot Desmond or those guys. They want to build something special in Sweden which is nice to see.
“I’m sure that’s his goal one day to host a big event there.
“The players would love it because they love coming to play here because of the support and Stockholm would be a great host city. People from around the world would come and see Stockholm and I bet they would have a really great time. I would be 100% sure it would be a big success if it did come here.”
The decision on a host venue for 2018 will not be taken until 2010 but European Tour chief executive George O’Grady took advantage of being in Stockholm for last week’s Scandinavian Masters to visit Bro Hof.
He told PA Sport: “Myself and Richard Hills, our Ryder Cup director have been impressed by all we have seen during the week and indeed visited an inspiring course which will be truly stunning as a tournament venue.
“As a nation, Sweden will be given the strongest consideration when it comes to discussion on future home venues for The Ryder Cup.”
By Phil Casey, PA Sport

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