Wednesday

Raph's Rousing Win & Tiger's Take on the French Bid

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My first official round of golf took place in France, on a municipal course just outside of Paris, and my biggest cheerleader in learning the game has been a Frenchman.  That same Frenchman is also my favorite and at times most annoying playing partner. The French Open, back in 2007, was my first time at a professional golf tournament.



Without a doubt, France has a major place in my personal history with golf, and as such, I'm a huge fan of French players.  Gregory Havret's 2010 U.S. Open run last summer... The French team's victory at the 2010 World Amateur Championship... those kinds of things tend to make me happy. So naturally, when I heard Raphael Jacquelin had won the (rain delayed) Sicilian Open on Monday, I was très heureux... to say the least.

This win was long awaited too, as they often are in professional golf.  It was the Jacquelin's third win on the European tour the previous one being the 2007 BMW Asian Open.  Four years... and a full beard later... Raf is once again in the winner's circle and France... along with Spain, Portugal, Holland and Germany... is about to find out if it will be hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup. The winner is to be announced at Wentworth Club on May 17th.

The French Ryder Cup bid is brilliant and players of all nationalities are speaking about Paris as a stellar venue.  Lee Westwood talked about the final four holes at Golf National and the familiarity professional golfers have with the course. 2010 Captian Colin Montgomerie mentioned the global significance of the city of Paris.   Tiger Woods weighed in as well. He reminisced on playing there in 1994 at the World Amateur Championship and revealed he'd only been to Paris a couple of times, but declared that it would be a great venue.

As the most visited city in the world, Paris has an infrastructure that can efficiently handle the masses of visitors a Ryder Cup would bring and clearly, the players love GolfNational.  With Chateau de Versailles as a backdrop, a FanZone at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and till-you-drop shopping on the Champs Elyses... it's definitely a tantalizing picture, but what many are most impressed with in the French bid is its commitment to growing the game though the development of at least 100 urban golf facilities.  These facilities would bring golf to areas where the population currently has little access, namely in and around urban centers. They'd be open to all and would not only provide top notch instruction and formation for future professionals,  but would also be public venues where a casual golfers could play a casual round without stringent dress codes and with rented equipment. It sounds like a solid step towards increasing golf's accessibility.

It'll be a few weeks before we know which of the five contending nations will host the Ryder Cup in 2018. The competition is stiff and I don't envy the selection committee. If you get a chance, check out the various bids and I'd love to know which one you feel makes the best case as host city.

For the time being I'm sure "Raph" is relishing his recent win... and hoping the French bid prevails.

Photos (top to bottom): Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Europe***Golf Girl Media***Clive Mason/ALLSPORT***Ryder Cup France***Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Europe