Scotland ready to pitch for 2026 Ryder Cup

Winning captain Paul McGinley is held aloft by his team at Gleneagles. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Winning captain Paul McGinley is held aloft by his team at Gleneagles. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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ON the back of the resounding success of this year’s event at Gleneagles, Scotland could be set to throw its hat in the ring to host the Ryder Cup again as early as 2026.

More than 40 years separated the 1973 match at Muirfield – its first staging in Scotland – and the event’s return to the home of golf in September.

But the next gap could be just 12 years if the buoyancy surrounding the game in Scotland at the moment encourages officials to go up against the Continental European countries hoping to attract the money-spinning spectacle in the future.

It is heading to France in 2018, with seven countries – Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey – having expressed an interest for the 2022 match. That leaves 2026 as the next available opportunity and, speaking as sponsorship of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open was confirmed for the next six years, Scotland’s interest in either that event or the one in 2030 was confirmed by VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantley.

“Having the confidence that comes with securing this event until 2020 opens other doors,” he said, sitting alongside First Minister Alex Salmond and George O’Grady, the European Tour chief executive, at Bute House in Edinburgh.

“There is the next Ryder Cup. People have said we won’t see another Ryder Cup here in our lifetime,” added Cantley. “But, with the activity, the success of this year and the strength of commitment to golf in Scotland, hopefully that will come round sooner than people will have anticipated. The announcements are still to come, but there is 2026 and 2030. There is a lot of chat in Scotland about 2026...”

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On the strength of how well it coped with the event on this occasion – there was barely a grumble about the entire operation as 45,000 fans were ferried in and out of the course each day – Gleneagles would be an obvious contender as the host venue again.

It might also prove appealing to the likes of Donald Trump either at Turnberry or his highly-acclaimed course at Menie Estate north of Aberdeen, while traditionalists would love to see the event held at the likes of St Andrews or Carnoustie.

“We could say bidding hasn’t opened up yet and that’s one way of dodging the question,” said O’Grady when asked if the prospect of the event returning to the game’s cradle within the next 12-16 years was a possibility. “But it is not out of the question.

“There are a lot of people pushing for it. It would have to be an exceptionally good bid for why we don’t take Italy or Germany or someone who hasn’t had it before. You’d never rule anything out for Scotland because that was such a good Ryder Cup, from all quarters. The American representatives from Hazeltine (venue for 2016) were over and went, ‘wow’.

“But you don’t have to do the Ryder Cup the way it was at Gleneagles. That was right for the British market at that stage, not just the Scottish market. I didn’t think we could have done it that well. It surpassed all my personal expectations and everybody elses.”

Indeed, when O’Grady announced earlier this week that he is stepping down from the Wentworth-based organisation, he said the decision had been taken in the “aftermath of what I believe to have been the best presented Ryder Cup since my first involvement in the contest at Royal Lytham in 1977”.

The interest in hosting the Ryder Cup again comes hot on the heels of it being announced that Scotland was looking at the possibility of staging the Solheim Cup for a third time in 2019.

“For us, it is very important that we don’t rest on our laurels,” insisted Cantley. “It would be easy to give ourselves a pat of the back and do that after the success of both the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup this year. It is about pushing on to higher and better things.”

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