Continental Ryder Cup bid hopefuls told to get creative

By Kevin Fylan

LONDON (Reuters) - Local color and an Olympic-style legacy will be key factors when Europe's Ryder Cup bid committee chooses between six candidates to take the competition back to continental Europe in 2018, bid leaders heard on Wednesday.

Representatives from France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the Spanish city of Madrid were told that facilities and their players' record would not be enough to win the right to stage the first of four home Ryder Cups on the continent.

"One of the things we are encouraging the bids to do is to be creative," European Ryder Cup director Richard Hills told Reuters.

"The successful bid country should add something to bring their color of their country to the match. The legacy will be what country A, B or C added to the match. That was an important part of the day: encouraging creativity."

Other aspects of the legacy could come in the form of infrastructure or education, following the lead of the hosts for 2010, which will be held at Celtic Manor in Wales, and in 2014 in Scotland.

"One of the other areas we were citing examples of legacy, was with what Wales are doing with children and the game's development, what Scotland are doing, in the First Minister's wish to give a child a golf lesson before the age of nine," Hills said.

"We also highlighted what we did with the Irish education system, getting catering colleges involved with our caterers at the match. They are the lasting legacies we were outlining to the bidders."

SAME POSITION

While Spain, Sweden, Germany and France have strong associations with the Ryder Cup, neither Portugal nor the Dutch have ever had a player in the competition but Hills insisted every bid was starting from the same position.

"We called it Operation Level Playing Field," Hills said. "It's important to remember that all six countries are members of the European Tour. We are dealing with six family members. We are keen to have one winner and five seconds, as we will continue to work with all of them over the coming years."

Spain hosted the biennial event the only time it has been held in continental Europe, in Valderrama in 1997. This time Spain has chosen to present itself as Madrid, while the other five candidates are from countries.

For the losers, there will be further opportunities, as the plan is for Europe to continue going to the continent in 2022, 2026 and 2030.

"We felt the continent deserved another go," said Hills, adding that the host nation for the 42nd edition of the match would be announced in 2011.

"We have six nations here today ... that underscores the interest there is. It is one of the large tournaments that can move and that's one of the great things about the Ryder Cup, that it can go to golf fans of different nations."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)