Gleneagles is not on “standby” to host next year’s Ryder Cup, despite claims that some Americans are anxious about the match being staged in France following some of the terrorist attacks there in the past year.
It was recently reported that a “secret plan” had been drawn up to pave the way for the 2018 event to be switched to the Perthshire venue, where the match was staged successfully four years ago on its first visit to Scotland since 1973, at short notice.
“To be honest, we chuckled at that story and it seemed every day that we chuckled a little louder because that’s not true,” Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive, told The Scotsman at Augusta National.
“We did not have any conversation internally. We’ve had no conversations with Gleneagles. We’ve had no conversations with the Scottish Police. We’ve had no conversations with the Scottish Government.”
The claim about the 42nd Ryder Cup, which is due to be held at Le Golf National outside Paris and will be only the second time the biennial contest has been played in Continental Europe, came in the wake of an attack at Paris Orly airport last month. It followed other incidents in France over the past year, including 84 people being killed as a truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on a promenade in Nice last July.
“We didn’t even feel the need to respond because, quite frankly, it is nonsensical,” added Pelley. “It is just not going to happen. We are looking forward to being in France. We are well down the road in terms of planning and it is going to be exciting. Gleneagles hosted a terrific Ryder Cup but it is safe to say they won’t be hosting the Ryder Cup in 2018.”
Albeit it on a much smaller scale than a Ryder Cup, one event that is definitely set to be staged in Scotland is the European Tour’s second Hero Challenge. A one-hole innovative knock-out contest, it will be held on the Tuesday night before the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in July.
One of the innovative events Pelley has added to the schedule since taking over the reins of the Wentworth-based organisation, it was held for the first time before the British Masters at The Grove last October. Involving eight players going head-to-head in straight knock-out matches, it took place under floodlights – not an option in Scotland in the height of summer, of course – and was won by Frenchman Alexander Levy in a contest that was concluded in less than an hour.
“We knew that when England play Scotland in football this summer there will be fireworks and we wanted an event where there will also be fireworks,” joked Pelley in reply to being asked why the Scottish Open had been chosen for its second staging, with an all-singing, all-dancing affair also having been confirmed by the Canadian for the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai later in the year.
“It is obviously a critical event and has arguably the best date on the calendar for us. We have spent a lot of time and effort building it to be part of the Rolex Series. Hero really believe in its tradition and know the Scottish Open will be successful and supported. We’ll have people there who appreciate the tradition of the game and I am sure they will also appreciate an entertaining new event like this.
“It will be a great event. It will be fun. We have a great field, with Henrik Stenson in it. We are also going to have a good field for the Hero Challenge on the Tuesday night. I am sure that Sky and NBC will get behind it and, leading into the Open Championship, which will be on everyone’s mind around then, it’s a natural fit.”