Sport Golf

Saturday 10 December 2016

Emotion won’t sway Ryder vote – Clarke

Bernie McGuire in Majorca

Published 13/05/2011 | 08:42

Potential 2018 Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke trusts the European Tour will not play the Seve Ballesteros sympathy card when the event's host country is announced on Tuesday.

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France, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Spain are vying for the rights to stage the biennial competition between Europe and the USA.

Portugal seemed favourites before their financial problems, but many golf fans feel that France, with their superb National course outside Versailles that hosts the French Open every year, should win Tuesday's vote.

And with Paris only a short distance away, Clarke favours France ahead of handing the event to Spain again -- the 1997 event was held at Valderrama.

"It's going to be tough for the Ryder Cup committee," said Clarke after carding a five-under-par 65 on day one of the Iberdrola Open.

"But that National golf course in France was built for a Ryder Cup. Besides, Spain has already had the Ryder Cup.

"And also, I wouldn't expect the Tour to choose Spain just because Seve passed away. So I can't see the Tour playing the emotional card."

Ballesteros' family have made an emotional plea for the event to be awarded to Madrid, as a mark of respect for the Spanish legend.

Seve's brother Baldomero invoked the legend of El Cid, the 11th century nobleman who was supposed to have inspired his troops to one final victory when his corpse was strapped to his horse after he died in battle.

"I wish that, like El Cid, Seve wins the last battle after his death," said Baldomero. "I appeal to the sensitivity of the Ryder Cup Committee to agree that the greatest honour that could be bestowed on Seve is to award the competition to Spain.

"It would have made my brother very happy, for it was one of his dreams."

Clarke had just 27 putts on the par-70 Pula club course for his lowest scoring round since back-to-back 64s in November's UBS Hong Kong Open.

Frenchman Gregory Bourdy outscored playing partner Danny Willett by a stroke to secure a new Pula Club course record of a seven-under-par 63.

Clarke shares third place with Matthew Nixon and was delighted with his effort, particularly after having spent the past three weeks on holiday in the Bahamas.

"While I may look like I just ate and drank the whole holiday, I actually did work on my game. So this round is not that surprising as I was playing that bad when I went away, and needed a break with the family and the kids because I had been trying so hard," he said.

Damien McGrane bounced back from rounds of 82 and 75 last week in Barcelona to record a 68. However, Gary Murphy, Simon Thornton and Colm Moriarty struggled in their first main Tour event of the season.

Murphy was six-over through 11 holes but did regroup with three birdies in succession from the 15th in a 74.

Thornton completed his outward nine with four straight bogeys in a round of 72, while Moriarty, who played in the group ahead of Thornton, turned in nine-over and finished with an 80.

Iberdrola Open,

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